Reduce home fire risks by following these Red Cross Guidelines: Download the app for more information

This fall, volunteers and staff from the Central & Southern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross have been busy responding to a high number of apartment and multi-family fires. Home and apartment fires become more common in the cooler months when we spend more time inside, cook more often, and use alternate methods–such as space heaters–to warm our homes. Holiday decorations, such as lights and candles are also a key contributor to fire causes this time of year.

From September 1 to late November, over 450 people impacted by 80 different multi-family or apartment fires in our region (which includes Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton) have received Red Cross assistance. Our disaster response and recovery assistance includes financial help; health and mental health care; emotional support and spiritual care; as well as case work.

Precautions renters can take to lessen the risk of fire in their apartment:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Candles cause about 20 home fires a day on average in the U.S. Instead, use battery-operated candles to help keep your family safe.
  • If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never place space heaters too close to furniture, rugs, drapes, or any flammable items. Never leave space heaters unattended.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes. Turn off the space heater every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Inspect holiday lights before hanging them. Make certain there are no frayed cords or damaged connections. Throw out any old or damaged holiday lights. Always unplug the lights before going to bed or leaving your home.

Home fires are the country’s most frequent disaster. Nationally, home fires claim seven lives every day. Having a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Residents can call the Red Cross at 844-207-4509 to have free smoke alarms installed in their homes. The free smoke alarm installation is available to renters living in apartment complexes as well as residents of single-family homes.

Means to reduce the risk of injury or death from a home fire:

  • Make certain to have a working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.
  • Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced because components such as batteries can become less reliable. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • Practice your home fire escape plan with everyone in your household until they can get out in less than two minutes — that’s the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home or apartment before it’s too late.
  • Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download our free Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

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