Red Cross: Safely heat your home as colder weather sets in across Eastern North Carolina

[courtesy American Red Cross]

With the coldest weather of the season so far on the Outer Banks and in northeastern North Carolina expected over the next couple of days the American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Region urges families to safely heat their home to avoid home fires.

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires. Since December 1, the Eastern North Carolina Region has helped 362 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning after 139 local home fires.

A mother, father and four-year-old child died Sunday in a fire in Pitt County that was blamed on an electrical overload, WITN-TV reports.

Last week, a fire caused by a faulty space heater claimed 17 lives, including 8 children, in a 19-story apartment building in New York City.

“Colder temperatures often bring the increased risk of home heating fires, and we want everyone to stay safe by properly warming their home,” said Barry Porter, Regional CEO, American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina. “The Red Cross recommends families be mindful when heating their homes, especially with the use of  space heaters.”


A 2020 Red Cross survey showed that more than half of us have used a space heater — which is involved in most fatal home heating fires. Provide at least three feet of space around all heating equipment, and never leave space heaters unattended. Follow these additional tips:

  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never an extension cord. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave a fire burning in the fireplace unattended. Make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.


To help protect your family year-round, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late.

Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.