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Red Cross Offers Tips on How to Stay Warm This Winter
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By Brittani Polivka, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
January 5, 2010

While the Bay Area does not experience the type of bone-chilling temperatures that have gripped much of the country, we do encounter temperature drops that require additional heating. With that, there is usually an increase of home fires this time of year as residents utilize candles and space heaters for extra warmth at a lower cost. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter provides the following steps which will reduce the risk of home fires, while helping keep heating costs down.

Heat Your Home Safely

  • All heaters need space! Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Place portable space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a model that shuts off automatically if the space heater tips over. Do not use heating equipment to dry wet clothing.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave portable heaters unattended. Turn them off before leaving or going to bed.

Cut Down on Your Heating Bills

  • Eliminate drafts. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround windows and door moldings. 
  • Make sure heat vents aren’t blocked by furniture.
  • Turn down the thermostat. 
  • Close off any rooms that aren’t in use and close heat vents or turn off radiators in those rooms.
  • Insulate your light switch and outlet plates with foam pads. Cold air can seep into the house through them.
  • Use heavy curtains to keep cold air out. Open them during the day to let the sun help warm your home and close them at night. Use fabric snakes or old carpets in front of windows and doors to help eliminate drafts.
  • Turn off vent fans in the kitchen and bathroom when they are no longer needed. 
  • Set ceiling fans to blow air down.

Don’t Forget About Fido and Your Neighbor

  • Don’t forget pets – bring them indoors if temperatures drop. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Check on people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

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