MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — Safety experts are reminding people across the Lowcountry as temperatures drop this week, the risk of home fires goes up.

According to local leaders at the American Red Cross, the organization responds to more home fires during the winter compared to the rest of the year.

“The winter is our big concern, because you have the issues with space heaters, you have people with fires in their fireplaces,” said Brint Patrick, executive director of the Lowcountry American Red Cross chapter. “There’s just additional risks that happen in the winter that don’t happen other times of the year.”

Storm Team 2 predicts morning low temperatures could be near freezing by the weekend, so if you plan to use a space heater, experts offer a few tips to keep your family safe.

First, safety experts said space heaters need just that — space. Keep the device about a yard from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, carpets, rugs, curtains and jackets.

Children and pets should also be kept away from space heaters, Patrick said.

Space heaters should never be left unattended, and should be unplugged before anyone leaves a room or falls asleep, Patrick said.

According to the Red Cross, space heaters should be plugged directly into an outlet, not an extension cord. Check to see if the cord is worn, broken or loose — if it is, either repair or replace it.

Patrick also reminds people across the Lowcountry to test their fire alarms in the winter months.

“Having a working smoke alarm that can make you aware of that, if for some reason you were in the other room, is very important,” Patrick said.

Plus, every family should have an emergency escape plan. In the case of a fire, every family member — regardless of age — should know where to meet, Patrick said.

The reminder comes as the Red Cross assists a family in Summerville Thursday whose home was damaged by a fire that occurred late Wednesday night.

Disaster trained volunteers helped provide financial assistance for needs like food, clothing and shelter, in addition to referrals for resources, to two people impacted by the fire, according to a press release.

For more information on the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross, click here.