500% Increase in North Central Florida Home Fires Since Last Year
The American Red Cross of North Central Florida is reporting an alarming rise in the number of home fires in the area.
The local Red Cross has responded to 21 home fires in single family and multi-family dwellings in Alachua, Columbia, Dixie and Hamilton counties within the last two weeks alone.
They said that's a 500% increase from last year at this time.
According to Casey Schmelz, Emergency Services Manager at American Red Cross of North Central Florida, the rise may be due to an increased use of heaters and candles to save money in energy costs.
Amanda Harrison, Financial Development Manager at the local Red Cross said, "We tell everyone it's not a matter of if a disaster's going to occur, it's a matter of when." And she said home fires are the most common disasters that Americans face each year.
She said, "I know everyone thinks a home fire can never happen to them, but in the past two years, 987 individuals have fell victim to a home fire, in the past 2 years in this local area."
Even with such troubling statistics, Schmelz said that most people still don't take proper fire safety precautions in their homes. She said, "I think it's a lack of education honestly. People have fire extinguishers and they've never used them, they've never tested them. They don't know how to pull the trigger, they don't know how to use the sweeping action and that's really important that that's being lost. I mean it really could save some people's homes."
The Red Cross advises the proper use of smoke alarms in your home, being careful with candles, heaters and cooking, and rehearsing an emergency plan.
Schmelz said, "Knowing what your options are, knowing the safety procedures that you need to take and knowing how to use the tools that will assist in that are vital...ask any one of my victims, it can save your life."
For more information on the American Red Cross and how you can prevent and prepare for disasters, go to www.redcross.org.
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