Fire crews, American Red Cross remind people about fire safety during winter months

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Fire Department and American Red Cross are reminding families to make sure they're practicing fire safety as we continue into the winter months in Wisconsin.

"Fire is always a safety concern from the summer months to the winter months," explained Battalion Chief Brian Langer with the Milwaukee Fire Department, while responding to a house fire on N. Fratney Street Sunday morning. "During the winter months, there's a different type of fire because people begin to use different ways to heat their homes."

Battalion Chief Langer urged people to avoid using untraditional methods to heat their homes as temperatures begin to drop.

"It's getting colder; people are using space heaters," he said. "We encourage people to only use their home heating systems and not any alternative means."

According to American Red Cross, the organization has responded to 268 fires that have impacted over 1,600 people in the Milwaukee area in 2021. Mark Thomas, Regional CEO with American Red Cross, says that they tend to see an uptick in calls during the winter months, encouraging families to make sure they know and practice their fire safety plan.

"Most people don't think a fire would happen at their home, but when it does, we want people to be ready to take some immediate action," Thomas said. "You don't have a lot of time."

The Red Cross also encourages people to make sure that the smoke detectors in your home are working, a message the Milwaukee Fire Department echoed.

"We try and work with the community to make their home safer," Battalion Chief Langer explained. "This time of year, people like to light candles; make sure they're away from anything flammable or combustible. Cooking; make sure your stove's in good order. Those sorts of things are good to do. Make sure they check their (smoke) detectors."

City of Milwaukee residents who are in need of a smoke alarm can call the Smoke Alarm Hotline. Fire department personnel will come and install one, free of charge. That number is 414-286-8980.

For a list of the American Red Cross fire safety tips, visit its website here: Home Fire Prevention & Safety Tips | American Red Cross

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