Survey finds concerns about economy may increase incidence of home fires

The American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association recently released results of a survey showing 79 percent of Americans are concerned about the rising cost of heating their homes, and many will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter. The survey identified additional behaviors related to appliance maintenance and cooking that could also present home fire hazards this winter.

"If people use alternative heat sources to reduce energy costs, it is critical they use devices that are new or in good working order, and they turn off units when they go to bed or leave the room," said NFPA President James. M. Shannon.

"We hope this survey will encourage more people to take the simple steps necessary to protect their families and homes from fire," said Gail J. McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross.

Last year, the North Country chapter of the American Red Cross responded to 37 home fires, providing comfort, shelter and aid to help families pick up the pieces.

"Home fires can be just as devastating as any other type of disaster," said Jeanie C. Roberts, executive director of the local American Red Cross. "The Red Cross is here to help anyone affected by a home fire, but also to provide information that helps people prevent and stay safer in a home fire."

According to NFPA reports, cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires. In addition to showing the majority of Americans are concerned about rising home heating costs, 48 percent said they will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter. Alternative heating sources include portable space heaters, stoves, ovens and fireplaces. One-third of people interviewed with fireplaces - 36 percent - reported they never cleaned or inspected their chimneys. The survey also found 23 percent of respondents did not consider it essential to make sure someone is home when food is cooking on the stove.

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