A fire in the home is the biggest disaster threat to American families, greater than the risk of floods, hurricanes or tornadoes, according to the American Red Cross. Nationally, the non-profit responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these are home fires.
In the Pine Tree State, the Red Cross responds to nearly 300 fires each year, and urges Mainers to take steps to help prevent fires:
• Avoid using candles and other items that can potentially be hazardous.
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area, placing them on the ceiling or high on the wall.
• Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom.
• Test your smoke alarms regularly. Replace batteries yearly.
• Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
• Keep flammable items at least three feet from anything that gets hot, such as kitchen stoves, ovens, or wood stoves.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
MAKE A PLAN
You may only have two minutes to escape a fire. Most people, however, mistakenly believe they have more than twice as long. The Red Cross recommends your family develops a fire escape plan and practices it at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the home. Each family member should know two ways to escape from every room, and designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire. Discuss the plan with the entire household and practice until every member – including children – can escape in less than two minutes
You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App for access to life-saving information on what to do for everyday first aid emergencies, including burns. Visit redcross.org/apps.
Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years.
As part of the campaign, the Red Cross is joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires. The Red Cross also is asking Americans to take two simple steps that can save lives: check your existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.
You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.