COLUMBIA - As the temperature drops, people seem to be more active indoors. However, the Columbia Fire Department is busy outdoors - trying to prevent fires.
Home fires are more prevalent in the winter than in any other season. People are preparing for the holidays by baking more cookies, cozying up by the fire and adding decorations, but all of these bring additional fire hazard risks.
The Columbia Fire Department's Battalion Chief Brad Frazier said to never leave cooking unattended. This is the number one leading cause of residential structure fires. This month there have been several fires due to this in Columbia.
"The other thing that tends to happen in the winter months is that people use space heaters more, and they can be dangerous. Keep anything flammable, as well as pets and children at least three feet away from a space heater at all times," said Frazier.
Any fire is devastating. Some residents may still be able to live in their home, but for those who can't, the American Red Cross is willing to help.
American Red Cross' Disaster Specialist Wil Treftz said, "We have been averaging about three to four families a week. We do cover 21 counties in the Mid-Missouri area."
The American Red Cross helps victims with their basic needs by helping financially. The organization offers up to two nights stay in a motel, money for one week's worth of food and clothing replacement.
Just earlier this week, the non-profit group was able to assist a Columbia family with $500 worth of items. "All of this assistance we do provide is from the goodness of people's hearts, giving money," said Treftz.
For more information on how to prevent the loss of lives and property in home fires this winter, click here.