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National Preparedness Month: Get Ready for Emergencies

Home Fire Escape Plan

With so much of country facing ominous threats from Mother Nature, it’s more important than ever for people to get prepared for emergencies. Now is the perfect time - National Preparedness Month - and the American Red Cross urges people to create a disaster plan for their household this month so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.

As National Preparedness Month begins, large tropical storms are hitting Hawaii and Florida. Thousands of people in Louisiana are still reeling from the devastating flooding there. And the most common threat people face across the country is a fire in their home.

There are three steps people should take now - build a disaster kit, come up with an emergency plan and be informed about learn how local authorities will notify you during a disaster.

An emergency kit should contain water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Learn about how your community responds to hurricanes and plan routes to local shelters. Remember family members with special medical needs and plan how you will care for your pets. Full details are available in the preparedness section of redcross.org.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 100 lives as part of its nationwide Home Fire Campaign launched to reduce the number of people who die or are injured during a fire in their home. Started in October of 2014, the campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working with fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross is installing smoke alarms in homes in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching residents about fire prevention and preparedness.

HOME FIRES – WHAT TO DO The Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: create and practice their home fire escape plan and check their smoke alarms. National Preparedness Month is a good time to develop that fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in the household. Take a walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year.

People should also install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. They should test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace them every ten years.

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of disasters as well as locations of shelters. Household members can use the app to plan what to do and where to go if a disaster occurs. The app also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.