MILWAUKEE -- The American Red Cross responds to more than 700 house and apartment fires each year in Wisconsin -- and unfortunately, winter, and during the holiday season is when we see a lot of these fires. Fires that happen during the holidays can make a joyful time instead quite tragic. But there are steps you can take to help keep yourself and your family safe.
This year, the American Red Cross has responded to more fires than ever in Wisconsin. In fact, the 53206 area code was the top area for fire incidents three months in a row -- even beating out Chicago.
"Now I love beating Chicago for everything, but not this. I'd really like to not have that title," said Patty Flowers, regional CEO for the American Red Cross.
Flowers says the number of fires the Red Cross has responded to this year isn't a laughing matter.
And many of these fires could have been prevented.
"Most are something is left on the stove cooking, heating with a space heater and having it catch on fire with the curtains left too close to it, candles left burning," said Flowers.
The Red Cross responded to four fires in southeast Wisconsin over the Christmas holiday:
Three people were displaced after a fire at a home near 73rd and Carmen on Sunday afternoon, December 27th.
Six people were displaced after a fire at a home near 16th and Grant early Sunday morning.
On Friday night, December 25th, firefighters were on scene near 1st and Chambers.
A Sheboygan family woke up in Christmas Eve morning Thursday, December 24th to find their home on Woodland Road filled with smoke and flames.
"It's usually around the holidays. There are more people in your home. You've got overnight guests. You're putting more sleeping bags on the floor. That's when accidents occur," said Flowers.
Flowers has some tips to stay safe over the holidays.
First, keep an eye on those space heaters.
"Guard it carefully. Make sure there's nothing near it," said Flowers.
Be conscious of how many candles are lit and where.
"If you light candles, count the number of candles and write it down and go and blow out that number of candles. Then you'll never have one you've forgotten," said Flowers.
And pay attention to the stove as you cook.
"If you're cooking, make sure the handles are not hanging over the stove edge," Flowers said.
Red Cross volunteers will begin handing out smoke detectors for those in need in an effort to save lives in the event of a fire.
"We both have programs that we are working together on to get people as many smoke alarms as they need in their homes so these kinds of tragedies can be prevented," Flowers said.
Statewide, Red Cross officials hope to install 2,500 smoke detectors by June 2016.
Flowers believes they'll surpass that goal.
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