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Resolve in ‘17 to be prepared

By Sheila Crunkleton

American Red Cross

The New Year has come and many people are contemplating resolutions about things they’d like to do in 2017. On behalf of the Red Cross, I ask you consider adding getting prepared for emergencies to your list of resolutions.

2016 was a very busy year for the Red Cross nationally and here at home. In Rowan County alone, the Red Cross helped 89 families while responding to 67 fires and installed 142 smoke alarms to help save lives. We could not have been there for our neighbors in need without the commitment of our partner, the Rowan County United Way and its volunteers, donors and board, along with the invaluable Red Cross volunteers and donors.

Help protect your family from a home fire. With cold winter weather, there is often an increase in the number of home fires. Follow these steps to help prevent a fire in your home and keep your family safe.

• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces. This includes paper, bedding, drapes or rugs.

• Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended. Before going to bed or leaving your home, be sure to turn off heaters and make sure all embers in the fireplace are extinguished. Make sure ashes are cool before putting them in a metal container.

• Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface such as ceramic tile floor and not on rugs or carpets. If purchasing a new heater, look for one that turns off automatically if the heater falls over. Always use the kind of fuel specified by the manufacturer for a fuel burning space heater. Always plug electric space heaters directly into a wall outlet to avoid overloading circuits, which can lead to fires.

• Never use your oven or cooking range to heat your home. Never use a generator inside your home.

• Use a glass or metal fire screen in front of your fireplace to keep the fire in place. Make sure the screen is large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

• Test smoke alarms at least once a month. If your alarm is more than ten years old, it is time to have it replaced, even if it tests as working.

• Practice fire drills at home. Planning is important. Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home, and set up a meeting place outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothing should catch on fire.

For your Red Cross to continue responding to disasters and helping save lives with programs such as the Home Fire smoke alarm installation program in 2017, please consider volunteering or making a donation at www.Redcross.org or the Rowan County United Way at www.rowanunitedway.org.

Sheila Crunkleton is the executive director of the Southern Piedmont Chapter of the American Red Cross

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