ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The American Red Cross is on standby, preparing for a possible increase in house fires. Temperatures will plunge into the low 20's overnight. The Red Cross warns you to keep warm safely.
Firefighters say dangerously low temperatures will lead some South Georgians to use dangerous methods to stay warm, and they worry that could be deadly.
Cold weather increases fire danger. Firefighters say this fire on Melrose Drive in February was caused by a space heater that ignited a pile of clothes. A passing firefighter helped the homeowner out of the house, preventing a tragedy.
As temperatures plummet tonight, the American Red Cross' Disaster Action Team or DAT volunteers in all 18 South Georgia counties are on alert.
"They are on stand by. To know, if something should happen in their area, they can be called on to provide services for those families," said Nature Malone of the Red Cross.
The American Red Cross reports that unexpectedly cold weather at the end of 2014 increased their calls for service for fire victims. Statewide they helped 270 fire victims in October, 377 In November, and 311 in December.
The Red Cross and Firefighters know space heaters, especially during sustained cold weather, pose a real fire hazard.
"With a space heater, it's going to pull a lot of amperage. So we want to make sure that if a space heater is what you are using, that is the only thing that you have plugged in to that circuit at the time, or that outlet at the time," said AFD Inspector Laurence Cargill.
Malone said, "Make sure that those, there is no furniture, there is no items right in front of those electrical heaters."
Firefighters also urge you not to use your oven as a heat source. They are not made to run for long periods of time. You also need to make sure your smoke detectors are working, as heaters will be working full time for the next three or four days.
The American Red Cross will set up three warming stations in Valdosta. At the Salvation Army, Grace Fellowship Church, and New Horizons Shelter. All will be open overnight to protect people from this dangerous cold.