CONCORD, N.H. >> This month, as the winter season kicks into full gear across the country, the American Red Cross is stressing weather safety.

"Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, and the risk of home fires increases in colder weather," said Lloyd Ziel, Chief Communications Officer for the American Red Cross in New Hampshire and Vermont. "With the onset of winter across the country, it's more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to personal safety and staying warm this winter."

The Red Cross offers info sheets that you can download, print and distribute at your school or work.

• Winter Storm Safety Checklist:

• Power Outage Checklist:

Here are six ways you can stay safe during this winter season:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

• Test the batteries in your smoke alarms once a month, and change them if they're not working.

• Create an escape plan that includes two exits from each room and practice it until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.


• Follow the "three feet" rule and keep children, pets and flammable items at least three feet from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.

• Use gas wisely and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home.

• Use flashlights, not candles because battery-operated flashlights or lanterns are safer than candles during power outages

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.