JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are more house fires during the winter than any other season.
Larry Lightfoot has worked for the American Red Cross for eight years.
"I think this time of year hurts us worse," said Lightfoot. "Kids, a lot of them lose their Christmas presents. They lose clothes and they have no place to go."
Lightfoot said responding to house fires can be heartbreaking.
"When you get there and you tell people, 'We're here to help you,' and let them get their sorrow and stuff over with and then we sit down and talk to them and they find out what we're going to do and what we can do."
The First Coast has seen multiple fires in just the past 24 hours. The USFA reports that nationally, on average, winter residential fires result in an estimated 945 deaths, 3,800 injuries and $1.7 billion in property damage. However, the USFA said there are simple things you can do for these next few, cold months to maintain a fire-safe home.
It said winter fires happen more often mostly because of an increase in cooking and heating fires, and winter storms that knock out power cause people to turn to alternative heating sources, raising their risk.
USFA Officials recommend keeping flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel, as well as keeping children and anything that can burn at least three feet from any heating equipment, such as a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
They suggest making sure all heaters or furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in working condition, and never discard hot ashes inside or near the home.
Finally, the USAF said never use your oven to heat your home and make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home that you check and clean monthly.
For more winter fire safety tips from the USFA: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/winter.shtm
For additional tips from the National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=2103&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Holidays/
Checklist for safely preparing for the heating season: http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//Public%20Education/Top10WinterFreezeTips.pdf
First Coast News