ROCKFORD (WREX) — When temperatures go down the number of fires goes up, according to the Rockford Fire Department.
In the months of October 2018 through February 2019, 211 fires were reported.
Rockford Fire says it makes sense that the number one reason for a fire during the cold months is due to cooking. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, families are inside enjoying company with one another. But, Rockford Fire says that can sometimes involve leaving the kitchen unattended.
“Making sure that you are in the kitchen paying attention to what’s going on and having a plan in case there is an issue,” said Rockford Fire Arson Investigator Matt Cordonnier.
The cold season is quickly approaching and Rockford Fire says it typically sees an increase in fires.
“As soon as people start turning their thermoses on really. So, it could be a couple weeks ago and moving through the entire winter season,” said Cordonnier.
Rockford Fire recommends inspecting your furnace regularly and making sure any items that could burn are at least three feet away from a furnace. Firefighters also provide educational services for fire safety in schools and encourage students to check smoke alarms and plan a fire escape plan with their parents at home.
“Checking your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms especially now with furnaces being turned on for the first time of the year, having those fire escape plans,” said Cordonnier.
The American Red Cross says seven people die everyday due to house fires nationwide but working smoke alarms can reduce the likelihood of death by 50 percent.
“It’s absolutely critical to make sure that we test our smoke alarms,” said American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager for the Northwest Illinois Chapter Harold Cubillo.
“We provide free working smoke alarms for anyone who is in need of that,” said American Red Cross Executive Director for the Northwest Illinois Chapter Leslie Luther.
Throughout the region, volunteers at American Red Cross installed more than 300 smoke alarms in homes so far this year. Education is key, according to the American Red Cross Northwest Illinois Chapter which partners with Rockford Fire to provide resources for individuals involved in a fire and how to prepare in case a fire were to occur.
“Red Cross Ready is a program geared towards adults where we talk about the safety measures they need to take,” said Luther.
Volunteers from American Red Cross are installing free smoke alarms in Machesney Park as part of their Sound the Alarm event on October 26th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Park firehouse. Volunteers provide free smoke alarm installation year round. To request an alarm please visit www.getasmokealarm.org.