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Just 2 Minutes. That’s the amount of time you have to safely escape a home fire.

Home fires devastate lives and property. A fire in the home is the biggest disaster threat to American families, more of a risk than floods, hurricanes or tornadoes. The American Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters a year – one every eight minutes, and most are home fires. But unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you and your family have the essential items and knowledge necessary to get through a crisis.

With just moments to act, there are two very important steps you can take to make every second count.

1. Test Your Smoke Alarms Monthly. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home inside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Check your smoke alarms once a month, and if they’re not working, change the batteries.

2. Practice Fire Drills at Home. Fire experts agree that you may have as little as 2 minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. Use this Home Fire Escape Plan worksheet to plan your evacuation and practice it at least twice a year as a family.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.