By David Foust and Susan Tovey, American Red Cross volunteers
Did you know that you have less than two minutes to get out of your home when a home fire occurs? This fact became a real-life experience for a local family in their two-story home on an early morning in June. Mom and her adult son were awoken to the smell of smoke. Smoke alarms in the house also began to sound just as flames started to engulf the son’s room. He had fallen asleep while smoking.
Mom and son ran down the stairs, followed by their three dogs that had been sleeping in Mom’s room that night. However, when Mom got downstairs, she realized that she forgot her cell phone and purse. She ran back upstairs and retrieved her phone from her room, but by then, the heat from the flames were extremely intense. She could barely see through the thick black smoke that filled every upstairs space. Mom became disoriented and confused in the house she had lived in for many years, and finally managed to reach the staircase and get downstairs, only to hesitate once again to dial 9-1-1 while still inside her burning home. Mom and son barely survived this sudden and frightening emergency.
Fortunately for this family and their three dogs, they made it out of their burning home without injury. For many, this is not the case. On average, seven people die every day from a home fire and 36 people suffer injuries.
The most common emergency that happens across the country is a home fire. The American Red Cross responds to a home fire or other disaster every 8 minutes. One way to protect yourself and your family during this type of emergency is to have smoke alarms installed throughout your home. When you are escaping a home fire, you want to get low and go. Get low to the floor and quickly get out. The most important thing is to get out of your home safely and as fast as possible. Fire spreads very quickly. Remember, you may only have two minutes to escape. Every second counts! Once you are out, stay out. Never go back inside for anything or anyone. Call 9-1-1 from a safe place outside and wait for firefighters. They will enter to help rescue anyone or any pets inside.
To learn more how you can prevent and prepare for home fires, or to receive information about having free smoke alarms installed in your home, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/SoCal.