As people turn their clocks back this weekend for the end of daylight saving time, the American Red Cross asks everyone to also test their smoke alarms.
Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster and tragically take seven lives every day in this country. And home fires become even more frequent as the weather gets colder. The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania responds to 25% more home fires in November through March than in warmer months from April through October. In fact, in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, the number of home fire responses nearly doubles between October and January.
“It’s critical to take action now to be as safe as possible as the threat of home fires increases with the holidays and colder weather,” said Guy Triano, Regional CEO for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “So far in 2021, the Red Cross has responded to more than 550 home fires in our five counties. The good news is that you can take a few simple steps this weekend to help protect your loved ones.”
During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. As the clocks “fall back” when daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 7, it’s also the perfect time to test your smoke alarms and replace the batteries if needed.
In addition to testing your smoke alarms this weekend, follow these three steps get your home ready:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Replace batteries in 9-volt models that require them and replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. Components such as sensors can become less sensitive over time.
- Practice your two-minute home fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes — that’s the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home before it’s too late. Include at least two ways to get out of every room and 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 can meet.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires – a risk that increases with this week’s return of colder weather. Help keep your family safe by providing at least three feet of space for all heating equipment. Most home heating fire tragedies occur when flammable items like furniture, rugs and drapes are too close. In addition, never leave space heaters unattended — as they’re involved in most fatal home heating fires. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes. And turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
For more information, including safety tips and free resources, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.