SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are just 15 days into 2018 and the American Red Cross says it has already seen a 60 percent increase in people needing assistance after their homes were burned down.
As of Jan. 14, the American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia has helped 66 fire victims.
"When families do experience a fire, the American Red Cross and volunteers are there to be able to help to restore hope," the American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia's Executive Director Esther Sheppard said.
Sheppard said with temperatures being unbearably cold, many people are just trying to stay warm, like the elderly couple who lost their home on Pinetree Road. Savannah Fire said investigators found several electrical appliances plugged in the same area including a space heater.
"We really try to teach our residents to make sure they're operating their heating appliances in the proper way," Sheppard said.
And with temperatures expected to dip into the 20s later this week, the Red Cross recommends people brush up on their fire safety.
Homeowners can make sure they're smoke alarms are working properly by pressing the "Test" button.
Sheppard said everyone in the home should also know a safe way to get out of the home in case flames break out.
"If they are planning properly within their homes then they can make sure they're families are safe," Sheppard said.
If you need a smoke alarm or just want to have yours checked by a professional, Savannah Fire said they offer free smoke alarm checks and installations.
Savannah residents can call 912-651-6756 to schedule an appointment.
The State Fire and Safety Commission will be in town Wednesday to present the department with more smoke alarms, which means they should have plenty for those who want them.