Firefighters offer tips on staying safe during cold weather

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Colder temperatures are keeping firefighters and the Red Cross busy this year.

There are some simple steps to make sure you stay safe.

"You would take more chances having your oven open, and having it on high. Things like that can cause fires," Ronnyh Harrison, with Houston Fire Department said. "A burning candle -- candles unattended cause fires every year."

To prevent these calls, firefighters say to check your heating system and be careful using a space heater.

"Make sure you have space. That's why they call them space heaters. Three feet all the way around. Nothing sitting close to them," Harrison said.

The recent fires have kept the American Red Cross busy as well.

"Most of the disasters we respond to are home fires," said regional program marketing director Tyler Moyer. "Usually we respond to four or five home fires a day."

The number of calls this year are also up.

From June through December, the agency has responded to 16 more fires, and helped 64 more people compared to last year.

Because of this, the agency needs volunteers.

"Case work, sheltering, feeding, immediate assistance, anything that we do for any home fire. Those volunteers are key," Moyer said.

With it expected to get colder next week, neighbors are looking for ways to stay warm, without having to see a firefighter.

"I try to make sure if I'm going to be leaving the apartment, or whatever the case maybe, that I don't leave any candles on, that I turn off the heater before I leave," Patrick Stewart said.

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