CORTLAND, N.Y. (Sept. 30, 2014) — Did you know that the biggest disaster threat facing American families is not a flood, tornado, or hurricane? It’s a home fire, and home fires affect more people annually in the United States than floods, tornados and hurricanes combined, according to statistics compiled by the American Red Cross.
Home fires comprise the majority of the nearly 70,000 disasters that require American Red Cross response each year. On average, home fires annually cause 2,500 deaths and nearly $7 billion in property damage.
Over the next five years, the Red Cross and its partners will carry out a nationwide campaign that will combine new technology and innovation with old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach to save lives, reduce injuries and cut down on the needless losses from home fires.
In Central New York, the American Red Cross is kicking off this initiative on “Rally Day” – Saturday, Oct. 11, in the city of Cortland. Teams of Red Cross volunteers and staff members will visit select neighborhoods in Cortland to install free smoke alarms and conduct fire safety and disaster preparedness education. Rally Day is also the final day of national Fire Prevention Week.
On Saturday, Oct. 4, Red Cross staff and volunteers will canvass the selected areas to alert residents about the campaign. The Cortland neighborhoods and others that will be included in this campaign were chosen based on their vulnerability to home fires.
“We hope the Cortland residents in the selected neighborhoods take a few minutes on Oct. 11 to take advantage of this potentially life-saving opportunity,” said American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Jill Deskins, who oversees the Central New York campaign. “We’re excited to spread the word about fire safety throughout Central New York as we will visit more communities over the next five years.”
Home Fire and Smoke Alarm Facts:
• Home fires in the United States kill more than 2,500 people annually and cause an average of 13,000 injuries. (These figures do not include firefighter deaths or injuries.)
• Smoke alarms are either missing or non-functional in 73 percent of rural home fires.
• Nearly two-thirds of all fire-related deaths occur in homes that have no functioning smoke alarms.