HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — While the American Red Cross is wearing several hats during the coronavirus pandemic, it continues to respond to an uptick in house fires. The nonprofit says those are common in Central Pennsylvania during the winter months.
Though the Midstate hasn’t been slammed by snowstorms so far this year, the Red Cross says it’s vital to continue raising awareness about winter safety.
Heating fires remain the second leading cause of home fires.
The nonprofit reminds people: don’t leave heating sources unattended.
Space heaters should be plugged into direct sources on flat-level, non-flammable services. They should not be used with extension cords, and should be kept away from curtains, tapestries and even throw blankets.
Maintenance of heating equipment and generators is key.
“You want to make sure you’re using your generator safely and that means never using them of course indoors,” said Lisa Landis, the regional director for communications and marketing at the American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania chapter. “You want to make sure you’ve maintained your equipment year-round and if you haven’t, maybe this will be the first opportunity you have to use it this year, you want to make sure you’ve fully read the manual.”
Landis stresses the need to have working smoke alarms.
Several municipalities and fire departments across Central Pennsylvania have launched efforts to ensure each home in their community has them.
The Red Cross says if there is snow, dress in layers.
“Take frequent breaks if you’re outside shoveling or salting, doing any strenuous activity outdoors,” said Landis. “Also, if you start to notice signs — your skin feels waxy, or someone else does, they seem a bit confused, they’ve moved beyond that shaking and shivering feeling, you want to make sure you get indoors.”
Tuesday, the Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania chapter is hosting an information session for people interested in being volunteers.
More winter safety tips from the Red Cross can be found on its website.