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The biggest disaster threat to American families is not floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it’s fire, according the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these are home fires.

The Crossroads Chapter responded to 16 home fires last year, according to a news release.

Here are some things the Red Cross says you can do to protect yourself:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as a stove.

  • Never smoke in bed.

  • Turn portable heaters off and blow out candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Because smoke rises, put the alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Test the smoke alarms regularly. Install new batteries every year. Get new smoke alarms every 10 years.

Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray, who responded to a report of a house fire earlier this week, also suggested families come up with a meeting place outside in case of disaster.

For more tips, visit www.fpw.org or www.redcross.org.