RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The American Red Cross is staying busy this holiday season. The non-profit said it responded to dozens of house fires between Dec. 23 through Dec. 26 with more than 20 of them in the Richmond area. It’s encouraging these practices to keep families safe and prevent one from happening.

With the cold air still here in Central Virginia, some people are relying on space heaters to keep themselves warm. According to Christy Carneal with the American Red Cross Virginia Region, they’re being used as an alternative heat source because sometimes, their own heating system doesn’t keep them warm enough.

Carneal recommends anyone who uses them keep the heaters a certain distance from flammable objects.

“Make sure those are placed three feet from anything such as bedspreads, curtains, towels, blankets, any of those things that can catch on fire,” said Carneal.

She also tells 8News to never leave food cooking unattended and to check your smoke alarms once a month.

“Studies have shown that a working smoke alarm helps to reduce the risk of home fire related injuries and deaths by more than 50 percent because it does notify you,” explains Carneal. “Once your house is on fire, you really have only two minutes to get out.”

Carneal encourages people to replace any smoke alarms between 5-10 years-old and to always have a fire escape.