Released by Linda Edwards with the Smith County Red Cross:
TYLER, TX - In the past week the Smith County Chapter of the American Red Cross has assisted with 9 house fires in our area. "Every year in Smith, Cherokee, Wood, and Henderson counties, home fires are the single most common disaster threat," said Tammy Prater, Executive Director, Smith County Chapter, "and for a family that has lost everything, a home fire is just as devastating as a major tornado or hurricane."
"Winter has not yet arrived in East Texas and already the number of fire cases has more than tripled", stated Mrs. Prater, "we provide fire victims with assistance for food, clothing, prescriptions, temporary shelter and other special needs an affected family may have. Because of the unprecedented number of fire cases, our funds have been greatly depleted, and we are asking for the community's help", continued Mrs. Prater.
The Smith County Red Cross Chapter responded to more than 135 home fires last year here in East Texas, and provided 482 individuals (almost 50 % were children) with immediate emergency assistance. Here are a few simple steps to prevent fires:
• Keep all sources of fuel (paper, clothing, bedding and carpets or rugs) at least three feet away from heat sources, such as when using alternative heating like a space heater and when cooking.
• Provide constant adult supervision during cooking or in rooms with lit candles or fires. Do not leave burning candles unattended.
• Keep matches and lighters away and out of reach of children.
• Teach young children to tell an adult if they see matches and lighters and not to touch them. Teach adolescents to resist peer pressure by choosing a more productive activity and not to play with fire if curious or bored.