TOPEKA (KSNT) – The American Red Cross of Kansas is asking people to stay safe after seeing a possible uptick in home fires. The non-profit responded to more than a dozen home fires in the first week of 2022.
Last year, staff and volunteers responded to around 700 home fires across the state, providing health, mental health, spiritual care, and recovery assistance services. If the current rate of fires holds throughout the year, the Red Cross of Kansas would see home fire responses increase 5 percent.
Regional Preparedness Program Manager Linda Medford is advising people to check their smoke alarms and change them if they need to be replaced.
“If you pop them off the wall and look at the back, there is a manufacture date back there,” Medford said. “If those are over ten years old, it’s highly recommended that those be replaced.”
The American Red Cross is partnering with the Topeka Fire Department to get more smoke detectors in homes. Medford said the non-profit is providing TFD with smoke detectors to give out and install. There is no income requirement and people can get up to three installed in their home for free.
The American Red Cross of Kansas also suggests you:
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out of the home in less than two minutes.
- Move items that can burn away from the stove like dish towels, bags, and paper.
- Never leave a portable heater or fireplace unattended.
- Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fire place are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
Alan Stahl, Public Education Officer with the Topeka Fire Department, said people should also close their bedroom doors before going to sleep.
“Fires follow the laws of physics,” Stahl said. “They move upwards and outwards until they hit a barrier, so if that door is open that smoke and heat is going to come right into your room.”
Fires can burn at more than 1,000 degrees but Stahl said this can keep your room at less than 100 degrees. He said this can buy you at least 30 minutes depending on the type of door, which gives first responders more time to rescue you.