Major Wyncote condo fire shows how quickly a fire can spread and how devastating it can be

Monday, October 8, 2012 — This week is the annual fire safety and prevention week and even though the American Red Cross helps families and businesses learn how to protect themselves and others from fires year round, the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) is stepping awareness efforts by providing fire safety information all month-long.

This weekend’s fire in Wyncote is an example of how quickly a fire can cause major damage and disrupt hundreds of lives. Last year, the American Red Cross SEPA responded to more than 620 fires in the five county region, providing food, clothing, and/or shelter to about 2,800 people, 930 families. Nationwide, the American Red Cross responded to about 63,000 home fires, providing comfort and basic necessities to more than 82,000 families.

“We respond to two to three fires every day in Southeastern Pennsylvania,” Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO of the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania said. “The best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to install a smoke alarm and develop and practice a fire escape plan. Fires can spread very quickly, so everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm,” Hughes said.

Additional recommendations include:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.

• Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.

• Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

• Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.

• Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving 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.

Business, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. According to the United State Fire Association, non-residential building fires resulted in $2.4 billion in losses in 2010. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program at www.readyrating.org. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.

In addition to helping families and businesses prepare their homes and facilities for potential fires, the Red Cross is there to help those in need when fires break out. In addition to assisting 40 families from the Wyncote fire, the Red Cross recently helped dozens of people following the fatal fire in Coatesville, PA. That fire proved how important smoke alarms and having a fire escape plan can be.

“In order to continue responding to disasters like fires at homes and businesses here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Red Cross depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses in the community,” added Hughes. “Please consider making a donation by going to RedCrossPhilly.org or calling 215-299-4000.”

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About the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania:

The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The Red Cross is not a government agency. All Red Cross assistance is free of charge. Financial contributions are always welcomed and needed and can be made by going to RedCrossPhilly.org.