HARRISBURG Pa., (WHTM) — As the cooler temperatures begin to make way to the Midstate, workers with the American Red Cross said there are steps you can take to stay warm while staying safe.

Members with the American Red Cross say during the winter months there is a higher threat of your home catching on fire.

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“One of the most leading causes of home fires is due to heating equipment,” Laura Burke said.

Burke, the executive director of the Central Pennsylvania American Red Cross, says even though it’s not cold yet, now is the appropriate time to make sure you know how to properly use items that keep you warm.

“If you have to put a space heater in or use one through the winter months make sure it’s on a level surface non-flammable something like ceramic tile,” Burke said.

The non-profit says on average 30% more home fires happen in the winter months. In October of 2020, the American Red Cross responded to 250 house fires across the Midstate.

Burke says these numbers can decline if proper precautions are taken.

“It’s also really important to know how frequently you change your smoke alarms themselves. How old is your smoke alarm in your home, we find that many people don’t know that every 10 years you have to replace your smoke alarm,” Burke said.

It’s important that parents teach their children about preparations so when an emergency happens, they would know what to do.

“And including your family in those processes and refreshing that emergency plan every year will help keep it more top of mind. It’s important to start as early as you can to be prepared for those winter months to make sure that you’re reducing your home fire risk,” Burke said.

Burke also says when families have a solid emergency preparedness plant, that will protect their loved ones and cut fatalities in half.