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Red Cross Responds to Home Fires Affecting Multiple Families

Home Fire Safety
Home fires are the most common disaster to which the Red Cross responds.

Home fires are the most common disaster that the American Red Cross responds to, but in the past couple of weeks, Red Cross responders have faced a bigger job than normal. An uptick in home fires affecting multiple families has cropped up across the country, including instances in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Montana and Washington.

Most Red Cross responses to these multiple-family fires include assisting families with food, emergency lodging and clothing. In some cases, like a recent fire in Reading, Pa., the Red Cross sets up a temporary shelter to house anyone displaced by the fire until long-term housing can be arranged.

The Northwest Ohio Region Red Cross assisted more than 50 people involved in a large fire in Toledo, Ohio on April 12 by providing emotional support, food, clothing, infant supplies, comfort kits, medical needs and temporary shelter. Moving forward, the chapter will continue to help the families with direct recovery assistance, including support for security deposits at new rentals, bedding and linens.

Linda Bliss, a Red Cross client in Toledo, stated, “You see hurricanes, tornadoes and fires and the Red Cross always pops up to help. You never think you are going to need that kind of help but I am so glad they were there for us. They sure have been wonderful.”

BE RED CROSS READY While home fires affecting multiple families may sound scary, it’s important to remember home fires are also the most preventable disaster. The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.

Remember basic fire safety tips:

  • If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  • Steps you can take now to prepare for and prevent fires:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to your children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Create and practice your fire escape:

  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
  • LEARN MORE Visit for more information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from a home fire. You can also keep this printable checklist on hand as a perfect way to help you protect your family and your home from fire hazards.

    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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.