Simple steps can prevent home fires and save lives

The American Red Cross is asking everyone during National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, to take simple steps to help prevent home fires and save lives.

Home fires can be deadly because they happen so quickly. A fire can double in size within 20 seconds and on average a person has maybe two minutes to get out of a burning home safely.

American Red Cross fire
An American Red Cross volunteer consoles a woman who lost her home in a fire. The Red Cross urges everyone to have smoke alarms in their homes. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

The Red Cross and partners across the country have set a goal to install 45,000 free smoke alarms in homes during October as part of the ongoing Home Fire Campaign.

In the 62-county Western Missouri Region from January through August, the Red Cross installed 2,593 smoke alarms, including 1,328 by the Southern Missouri Chapter in Springfield; 846 by the Greater Kansas City Chapter and 419 by the Northwest Missouri Chapter in St. Joseph.

On Oct. 14-15 in Warrensburg, Mo., Red Cross volunteers will install smoke alarms for those who have called requesting them. Anyone wanting a free smoke alarm should call the Johnson County Emergency Management Office at 660-747-2666.

The multi-year installation campaign kicked off in October 2014 with a goal to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent during the five years of the campaign. In the last two years, more than half a million smoke alarms have been installed as part of the Campaign.

Remember, the best first line of defense are smoke alarms that cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms.

Be sure to test smoke alarms once a month and change batteries once a year, if required. Also, be sure to replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

The Red Cross recommends that households develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year. Everyone should know two ways to escape from every room and designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of fire. Discuss the plans with all household members and practice it until everyone, including children, can escape in less than two minutes.homefire-graphic-2-%282%29

Download the Red Cross Emergency App that includes content on how to prevent home fires and what to do if one occurs. Parents can download the Monster Guard App to help their children learn what to do and how to protect themselves. Both apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or by going to redcross.org/apps.

People can join the Red Cross effort to save lives, reduce injuries and cut down on needless losses from home fires by making a financial donation to the Home Fire Campaign by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800 REDCROSS or texting FIRE to 90999. Their gift to Home Fires enables the Red Cross to provide critical services to people impacted by home fires along with the lifesaving tools and information to support home fire prevention efforts. People can also help by becoming Red Cross volunteers.

Additional information on home fire safety and the Home Fire Campaign is available at redcross.org/homefires. The Red Cross also partners with a wide variety of partners that support the “Fire is Everyone’s Fight” initiative to work together and reduce home fire deaths and injuries.

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