Monday, October 28, 2013

Increased Risk of House Fires in Nearing Winter Months

April Blanton’s Aurora home caught fire on July 25; it was one of the fires The American Red Cross responds to every eight minutes.

“It was definitely one of those things you just don’t think about,” Blanton said, “You never think you’re going to lose your house to a fire.”

James Adams’ Centennial apartment building caught fire earlier this month, landing him in the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are almost 365,000 residential fires reported in the U.S. every year. These fires cause more than $6 billion in property loss. Though this number has decreased as a result of increased fire safety awareness, 2,400 Americans still die in house fires each year.

Many of these fires can be prevented by taking simple precautions. As we near the winter months, homeowners should be cautious of space heaters, as they can easily become a fire hazard. Candles and fireplaces are also warm reminders of the winter season that can quickly turn deadly.

The American Red Cross recommends keeping items that can easily catch fire at least three feet from any sources of heat. Smokers should never smoke in bed and portable heaters should be turned off when leaving the room or going to sleep. 

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of the house and outside each sleeping area. Detectors should be installed either on the ceiling or high on the wall and batteries should be changed every year. The American Red Cross recommends smoke detectors be checked regularly and replaced every ten years.

Though fires can be prevented by taking precautionary steps, some causes, such as a faulty transformer in the Blanton house, can be hard to predict. April stresses the importance of renter’s insurance, something she feels is “affordable and a necessity” after losing everything she owned.

The American Red Cross was able to provide April Blanton and her family a hotel for several days following the fire as well as food vouchers and a small sum of money to purchase necessities.

Less than 24 hours after the apartment fire, Adams said he wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross—he wanted to give back. The disaster relief personnel assisting Adams was incredibly touched, reporting the man still smelled of smoke when he made this pledge.

To learn more about house fires and how to prevent them, visit

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