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NorthWestern Energy Joins Home Fire Canvassing Effort

Bozeman, August 27, 2014—Every year, approximately 365,500 home fires are reported in the United States, causing an estimated $6.9 billion in property damage and 2,500 deaths nationwide. Nearly two-thirds of all fire deaths happen in homes that have no smoke alarms or that have malfunctioning units, and only one out of every three American families have created and practiced a fire escape plan.

To lower the risk of home fires in Montana, the American Red Cross of Montana and NorthWestern Energy are launching a canvassing campaign this month in communities across the state. Starting with Kalispell on September 3, volunteers from both organizations will go door-to-door to show Montanans how they can prevent fires in their homes, how to prepare an escape plan and what to do if a fire happens. This local campaign is part of the American Red Cross’s effort to reduce the number of fire deaths in the United States by 25% in five years.

NorthWestern Energy selected the American Red Cross as its annual corporate volunteer partner in 2014. The company’s servicemen respond to home fires across the service territory to assist the first responders with securing utility services. Through this canvassing campaign, employees will be assisting Red Cross volunteers to help prevent fires from happening in their communities in the first place.

During a major emergency like a home fire, things can happen very quickly and sometimes there are only minutes to react. Planning ahead can help keep you and your family safe.

“Creating an emergency plan is an important first step,” says Rod Kopp, CEO of Montana Red Cross. “Montanans should mark National Preparedness Month by creating or updating their family plan. An emergency plan also helps families prepare for large-scale disasters.”

All members of the household should work together on their family’s emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to in the event of a fire. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Your plan should include ways to contact and find one another in an emergency, including two places to meet – one near the home and one outside the neighborhood.
  • Build an emergency kit in an easy-to-carry container that you can take with you have to evacuate. Full details about what the kit should contain are available on the Red Cross web site.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test the alarms monthly, replace them every ten years, and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Look at all the exits and possible escape routes, including windows.
  • List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths.
  • Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside.
  • Practice the plan with all members of your household at least twice a year.
  • No matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside.
  • For expert advice on how to create a complete plan, go to http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan.

    The Red Cross has a free first aid app that can help you prepare for and survive a home fire. Here are some of its important features:

  • Simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday first aid scenarios.
  • A comprehensive list of items to include in your emergency kit.
  • Full integration with 911 so you can call EMS from the app at any time.
  • Safety tips for everything, from severe winter weather to hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes help you prepare for emergencies.
  • Preloaded content that gives you have instant access to all safety information at any time, even without reception or an Internet connection.
  • Videos and animations make learning first aid fun and easy.
  • Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends and show off your lifesaving knowledge.
  • To download the free Red Cross First Aid App, got to http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/first-aid-app.

    You can help people affected by disasters like home fires, as well as countless other crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org/montana or call 1-800-ARC-MONT (1-800-272-6668). Contributions may also be sent to American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405.

    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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

    About NorthWestern Energy:

    NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 678,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.