American Red Cross Issues Steps to Prevent Home Fires

(Northeast PA Region, October 2, 2013) — The biggest disaster threat to American families isn’t floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it’s fire. The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these are home fires.

The Northeast PA Region responded to 406 fires last year. Fire is everyone’s fight and the Red Cross urges people to know what steps they can take to help prevent fires.

“Home fires are a common and deadly threat because they happen so quickly,” said Peter M. Brown, Executive CEO. “We urge everyone to become aware of what they should do to prevent a fire in their home.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are almost 365,000 residential fires reported in the U.S. every year. These fires cause more than $6 billion in property loss. While the frequency of fire deaths has steadily decreased over the past ten years due to increased awareness and safety measures, more than 2,400 Americans still die every year in home fires.

Fortunately, most home fires can be prevented. Homeowners should check for items that can be hazardous such as candles and space heaters – common items that can turn dangerous very quickly.

To help avoid a fire in the home, there are steps someone can take now:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom. Because smoke rises, put the alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Test the smoke alarms regularly. Install new batteries every year. Get new smoke alarms every ten years.

    MAKE A PLAN The Red Cross recommends that households develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the home. People should know two ways to escape from every room and designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire.

    Other safety steps include:

  • Follow the escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • 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.
  • Download the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.
  • People can visit www.redcross.org for more steps they can take to lessen the chance of a fire in their home.

    Northeast PA Region Red Cross chapters and contact information:

    Janet Curtis

    Executive Director

    Berks, Schuylkill

    Office: (610) 375-4383, ext. 121

    Cell: (570) 789-3659

    Sherry Nealon- Williams

    Interim Executive Director Bradford-Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties

    Office: (570) 207-0111

    Cell: (570) 417-5608

    Rita Inklovich

    Executive Director

    Danville Area, Bloomsburg, Greater Berwick

    Office: (570) 784-1395

    Cell: (570) 594-3217

    Jim Rienhardt

    Executive Director

    Poconos, Wayne Pike

    Office: (570) 476-3800

    Cell: (570) 234-9444

    Sherry Nealon- Williams

    Executive Director

    Lackawanna, Wyoming Valley, Hazleton

    Office: (570) 823-7161, ext. 325

    Cell: (570) 417-5608

    Peter Brown

    Regional CEO

    Greater Lehigh Valley

    Office: (610) 865-4400, ext. 236

    About the American Red Cross:

    You can help people affected by disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as countless 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 or call 1-800-RED-CROSS, (1-800-733-2767). Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, Northeast Pennsylvania Region, 2200 Avenue A, Bethlehem, PA 18017, or any one of the local Red Cross chapters.

    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.