ATLANTA, Georgia, April 28, 2016 -- Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire. Countless others suffer injuries. When a fire starts, you may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. To combat these tragic statistics, the American Red Cross launched a national Home Fire Campaign (www.redcross.org/homefire) in October 2014 and is working to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% in five years.
In metro Atlanta and across Georgia the Red Cross is joining with local fire departments and community volunteers to visit neighborhoods at high risk for home fires. Those visits include knocking on doors to educate people about fire safety, and the installation of free smoke alarms in homes that need them.
This Saturday, smoke alarm installations will reach the 10,000 mark in Georgia since the campaign’s inception - earlier than expected – with events happening in both the Covington and Rome areas. The Red Cross, with the help of local communities statewide, expects to complete 48 smoke alarm events in the first half of this year and to double the number of installations over the next 12 months.
Since the Home Fire Campaign began, the Red Cross and its partners have helped save at least 85 lives through smoke alarm installations taking place in all 50 states, with the first documented save occurring in Albany, Georgia.
“Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half,” said Eric Corliss, Red Cross Disaster Officer for Georgia. “Working with our partners, we’re reducing the risk of death and injury and making people safer with each new smoke alarm we install.”
THE GREATEST DISASTER THREAT IS HOME FIRES
At the same time Georgia’s Red Cross is helping people prepare for disasters, it’s also helping families respond to and recover from them. Home fires account for the bulk of these incidents and, in Georgia, Red Cross volunteers provide help and hope for more families following home fires than any other Red Cross region in the country. Last year (2015), the Red Cross met emergency needs for lodging, food, clothing, replacement medications, emotional support and more for 4,036 Georgia families who lost their homes and belongings following 2,810 home fires. Responses for the first half of 2016 are tracking ahead of last year at this time.
Despite the risk of home fires, a Red Cross survey conducted last fall showed that many families have a false sense of security about their ability to respond to them. About 64% of parents believe their children would know how to escape a burning home with little help, yet only half had talked to their families about fire safety and only 10% of families had actually practiced home fire drills.
SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.
There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:
· For the best protection, install working smoke alarms on every level and inside every sleeping area of the home.
· Test smoke alarms monthly! Be sure to change the batteries once a year and replace the entire unit every 10 years.
· Make sure that everyone in the family knows two ways out of every room and can exit the home in under two minutes.
· Practice your plan. Can your household escape in two minutes or less?
“It’s critical to have a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day,” said Corliss. “The plan should include two ways to get out of every room and a place to meet outside.”
RED CROSS APPS People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. Children can have fun and learn how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit redcross.org/homefire to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. To find out more about the Home Fire Campaign in Georgia or to become a volunteer for local smoke alarm installation events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.