Over the holiday weekend, the American Red Cross helped people affected by two large fires at different ends of the country.
In Philadelphia, a tragic fire destroyed or damaged ten homes, fatally injuring four children and leaving 42 residents homeless. In Mount Vernon, Washington, an apartment fire affected 36 units, displacing as many as 200 residents. The Red Cross provided shelter, food, water, financial assistance and emotional support to people impacted by both tragic fires.
The Red Cross responds to a fire in someone’s home about every nine minutes. Home fires are the biggest disaster threat Americans face and the Red Cross wants people to know about the steps people can take to be safer if a fire should occur in their home.
HOME FIRE SAFETY The most effective way to protect yourself and your home is to identify and remove fire hazards and install smoke alarms in the residence. Keep items that can catch fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as heaters. Never smoke in bed. Teach children about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
SMOKE ALARMS Install smoke alarms on every level of the house, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button. Teach children what the alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear one. Replace alarms every ten years and remember that carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms.
FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the home. People should know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside the home in case of a fire. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside.
COOKING SAFETY Many fires occur in the kitchen while someone is cooking. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food and if you have to leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn the stove off. Stay home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check the food regularly and keep anything that can catch fire like potholders or towels away from the stove.
FIRST AID APP You can also download the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.
Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips.