LOS ANGELES, April 23, 2020 – With the Los Angeles County Fire Department announcing a recent uptick in residential fires as more than 7 million Angelenos are at home practicing social distancing, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region encourages everyone to take this time to test their smoke alarms and practice their home fire escape plans.
Every spring, the Red Cross installs 100,000 free smoke alarms in homes and helps families create escape plans as part of a nationwide initiative to prevent home fires in at-risk communities. The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has been postponed this spring because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
That doesn’t mean home fires have taken a break, and the threat has been heightened with many families sheltering in place around the clock during the pandemic.
“We understand this is a difficult time for Angelenos as we all take precautionary measures to keep our loved ones safe, but fire safety should be one of those measures taken into account,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO for the Red Cross Los Angeles Region.
Home fires take seven lives a day in the U.S. and a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of death by half. Since the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014 to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries and, to date, we’ve helped save 723 lives across the country.
Though digital platforms, the Red Cross has also started offering a series of interactive Facebook Live broadcasts. The programming is designed to connect those at home with the work of the Red Cross and its community partners. This Friday join us for Home Fire Safety with Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier.
GIVING COMFORT AND SUPPORT AFTER HOME FIRES
During March, when the coronavirus outbreak escalated in LA, Red Cross workers helped more than 450 people recover from 24 home fires.
Red Cross volunteers are working with local fire departments to connect with affected families by phone or video calls, offering a sympathetic ear and linking them to available support, such as providing hotel stays and emergency financial assistance.
If necessary, some responses take place in person. Recently, when a family in Compton woke up on Easter morning to a devastating fire, Christian Ehlers was one of the trained Red Cross workers who provided comfort at the scene while also practicing social distancing. “It’s not just about handing out financial support, it’s about having a person in front of you to give you comfort and to remind you that there is an actual person there that cares about you, even if you have to stand many feet apart or speak to them through a video call,” said Ehlers.
TEST SMOKE ALARMS AND PRACTICE YOUR TWO-MINUTE DRILL
Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half and having a home fire escape plan further increases the odds of survival. In fact, fire experts say that you have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly. Place them inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Create and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in two minutes or less. Include at least two ways to escape every room. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
Learn more about home fire safety and preparedness at preparesocal.org.
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/la or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.