Red Cross advises on fire safety after spike in house fires in St. Lawrence County through cold snap
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 5:43 pm

As temperatures dropped during the final week of the year, volunteer disaster responders with the American Red Cross Eastern New York Region saw a significant spike in home fires, said a press release from the organization.

From Dec. 25-Dec. 31, the Red Cross responded to 24 local fires and provided assistance to more than 80 residents displaced during one of the coldest holiday weeks in recent memory.

The agency recently provided emergency assistance to St. Lawrence County residents at three separate fires over New Year’s Eve weekend, in Madrid, North Lawrence and Russell.

The number of local fires during this seven-day stretch was more than double the fires during the same period in 2016, and more than triple the number of fires in the region during the final week of 2015.

With colder temperatures often comes a rise in home fires, so while the forecast continues to call for frigid weather, the Red Cross encourages everyone to follow steps that can help prevent fires and keep families safe:

• Keep all potential sources of fuel – paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, rugs, etc. – at least three feet away from sources of heat.

• Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.

• Place any space heater on a level, solid, nonflammable surface. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

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

• Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.

• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.

• Install and test smoke alarms on each level of your home, near sleeping areas and inside and outside of bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed.

How to Help

Red Cross disaster assistance is always free and available immediately thanks to the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer and responding to home fires and other disasters in your community, visit

To help people affected by disasters big and small, visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.