Red Cross responds to 36 January fires in Williamsburg, Georgetown, Horry Co.

From the American Red Cross:

Since Jan. 1, the American Red Cross Palmetto SC Region has helped 612 individuals affected by 185 home fires. The region, which consists of 35 out of 46 counties in South Carolina, has seen an increase of 50 fires over the same period in 2013, when the region responded to 135 fires and assisted 443 people.

The Coastal SC Chapter, which serves Williamsburg, Georgetown, Horry Counties, responded to 36 of these home fires and assisted 126 people. This in an increase of 7 fires and 13 people assisted from this time last year.

"It's been a busy start to the year," said Nanci Conley, executive director of the Coastal SC Chapter. "Red Cross has been there to help with emergency shelter, essential hygiene items, health services, and emotional support that people have needed during the winter storms and after home fires."

Peak fire season began in October and will run through March and the Red Cross is offering these fire prevention tips:

- Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

- If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

- If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

- Use generators correctly. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

To prevent kitchen fires remember the following:

- Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.

- Enforce a "kid-free zone" in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.

- Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

- Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.

- Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.

People should also download the free American Red Cross First Aid app, which provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to Learn more about fire safety by visiting