LUBBOCK, TX — Just as Texas catches its breath from the winter storm, volunteers with the American Red Cross South Plains chapter said they’ve been busy at work responding to an increase in house fires across the Hub City, on top of helping people get through the below freezing temperatures.
“We’re very thankful that we didn’t have more [fires], but we did have kind of an uptick,” Deborah Finlayson, Executive Director of the American Red Cross South Plains, said.
In the last ten days, she said volunteers have responded to ten house fires in addition to distributing water, food and supplies to people across the South Plains. However, while this increase was unexpected, the Red Cross plans for an outbreak of house fires during the winter every year.
“History tells us that when there’s going to be a cold snap, more than likely there’s going to be an uptick in fires because people are doing things to try to stay warm,” Finlayson said.
Finlayson added that most fire-related deaths happened because the home didn’t have smoke detectors. She said something as simple as a smoke alarm could save your life, and she urged families to plan out and practice an escape route and meet-up spot outside the home to be ready in case of a fire.
But as the snow from this disaster finally melts, other emergency leaders reminded people to be prepared for the next one, especially as West Texas heads into tornado season and spring thunderstorms.
“You can have these unexpected type of events any time of the year,” Clinton Thetford, Lubbock County Emergency Management Coordinator, said.
Thetford recommended stocking up on water, food, supplies and medication year round in case of sudden severe weather.
“We do recommend that people have a minimum of three day’s worth of food and water stored up, have basic medical needs if you’re on specific types of medication, insulin,” Thetford said.
Ahead of the next winter blast, Finlayson also offered a bonus tip.
“People will fill up their bath tubs or sinks with water, so that if the water gets shut off, they can use [that water] to flush their toilet,” Finlayson said.
If you have been the victim of a house fire or natural disaster, you can call the Red Cross Disaster Services line at 1-866-505-4801.