As temperatures plunge, Red Cross offers home heating and winter safety tips

Red Cross

As of Jan. 21, 2021, the American Red Cross Kansas-Oklahoma Region has responded to 272 events and served 762 clients due to home fires, and with cold winter temperatures continuing this week the American Red Cross wants to remind people how to use space heaters and other heat sources safely.

“Many people are using space heaters and other heat sources to stay warm during this week’s winter weather and there are simple tips to help people do so safely,” said Johnnie Munn, senior disaster program manager.

Along with these tips, Munn reminds people who need Red Cross services to call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Also, people can use the community referral and information service of 2-1-1 available in Kansas and Oklahoma.

“While we work closely with our community partners in both states to help support people to recover from a disaster if people experience a power outage during this cold weather we encourage them to call 2-1-1 to find out more information,” said Munn.


When temperatures drop, many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. Unfortunately, home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating-related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps:

All heaters need space. Keep children, pets, and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.

If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Do no place space heaters on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. 

Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.


Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

Avoid driving until the inclement weather has passed. If you must drive, use caution and slow down, especially on ramps, bridges, and overpasses which may freeze before roadways.


The Red Cross Emergency App provides instant access to weather alerts for your area and the areas where your loved ones live. Additional winter weather and home fire safety tips are also included. Download the app for free at your favorite app store or at

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.