When temperatures drop, the number of house fires increases. In central Oklahoma this past week, the Red Cross responded to 34 individuals and families.

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to an average of 170 home fires a day. That’s one fire every eight minutes.

The Red Cross’ experience gives them some authority here and they passed along these suggestions:

· Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.

· Never smoke in bed.

· Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

· Many fires begin on or around the kitchen stove. People should remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Other cooking safety steps include:

· Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.

· Keep anything that can catch fire—like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing— away from the stove.

· Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

· Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.

· Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.

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