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Red Cross New Campaign to Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries

Poll shows people have false sense of security about fire safety

PRINCETON, NJ, October 8, 2014 – The American Red Cross announced a new campaign in New Jersey and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. 

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing their fire escape plan.

The Red Cross campaign also focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms and encourage families to practice their fire escape plans in communities with high numbers of fires. 

“Perth Amboy is number one on the list of high fire-risk zip codes in our region,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Smoke alarms can cut the risk of death from a fire in half; so we’re joining with fire departments and groups from communities in our region to install smoke alarms and teach fire safety.”

Red Cross volunteers will be out in Perth Amboy neighborhoods on Saturday, October 11 starting at 10:00 a.m. to offer smoke alarm installation in homes that need them and teach people about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home. Working with the City of Perth Amboy and the Perth Amboy Fire Department, the Red Cross will be joined by HOPE worldwide volunteers to canvass fire-affected neighborhoods.

Simple Steps to Save Lives

Even as the Red Cross and other groups install smoke alarms in some neighborhoods, they are 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: 

-  If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.

-  If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.

-  Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.

-  Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

New Poll Shows Many People Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety 

The Red Cross fire preparedness campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. 

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they have ten minutes or more. 

When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in 10 of those polled (42 percent) believed they could get out in two minutes. 

While 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence. 

-  Less than one in five of families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills.  

-  Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.

-  Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home. 

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Throughout New Jersey, the Red Cross responded to 1,063 home fires last year, offering comfort to 1,680 families and meeting immediate needs such as shelter, food and clothing, referrals and mental health services as needed. 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. 

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.

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.

About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region 
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 3,330 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fires, helping 1,130 displaced families; collected 25,420 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 1,877 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 60,441 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. Follow the North Jersey Region on Twitter @RedCrossNorthNJ.

Contacts:  
American Red Cross North Jersey Region
Diane Concannon, 609-206-4043 (cell)
diane.concannon@redcross.org
Erica Viviani, 973-309-3479 (cell)
erica.viviani@redcross.org 
@RedCrossNorthNJ