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Red Cross helps displaced families this Christmas | News

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Red Cross helps displaced families this Christmas

Every year, unfortunately we hear about Thanksgiving and Christmas house fires. They're usually preventable. The Red Cross is always there to help pick up the pieces, but also wants to remind folks how to avoid a fire this winter.

Since Thanksgiving, many house fires have been caused by bad wiring, fireplaces, candles and overloaded circuits. But the leading cause is cooking mishaps.

Brigette Williams with the Red Cross says, "With the exception of a lightning strike, fires are preventable."

Williams says it's been a devastating holiday. She explains, "Christmas Day we had four homes that were destroyed by fire including one that took the life of a two-year-old."

Just like an annual physical or car check up, you also need to have your fireplace and heater examined. "We can't say it enough. Whether in the spring when you start using your air conditioner or in the fall when you start using your heating, at least once a year you want to get your heating sources checked," Williams says.

In the event you can't prevent a fire:
Know where the extinguisher is
Have a working smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
Know your fire escape plan
Have a sign/sticker on your door or window so firefighters know how many pets are inside

"You want to be prepared for any emergency," Williams says. More tips can be found on the Red Cross website, click here

Fires not only destroy homes, but put families and emergency personal at risk. In the past six months the Red Cross has responded to more than 2,000 fires in Arkansas.

"That's more than we would do in a tornado," Williams adds.

It's at an average cost of $1,500 per response, everything from a comfort kit, hotel, clothing, medication, funeral assistance and more; all made possible by volunteers and donations.

Williams says, ""We're going to be there when that family is displaced at 2 in the morning and they're trying to figure out what to do and who to call. Unfortunately it's something that's needed and we've been doing this through depressions and recessions and so we have to continue on."

So far this year there have not been Christmas tree-related fires. Now is the time they get dry so keep it away from your fireplace or space heater because it can go up in flames in about 30 seconds.

On Sunday, a family of six was displaced from their Helena home; the Red Cross is helping them.

For more information on donating or fire prevention tips from the Red Cross, click here.