WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 5, 2020 — National Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10, and the American Red Cross urges everyone to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan as home fires continue during COVID-19.

Since February, the Red Cross has responded to more than 29,000 home fires across the country to help more than 128,000 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance, and recovery planning. The nation’s most frequent disaster, home fires are most often caused by cooking, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”

“Home fires haven’t stopped during COVID-19, and neither has the need to prevent fire tragedies,” said Trevor Riggen, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services. “During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan to help protect you and your loved ones.”

RED CROSS SURVEY: MOST OF US ARE UNDERPREPARED Home fires claim seven lives a day in the U.S., but a new 2020 national Red Cross survey shows most of us aren’t taking the steps to protect ourselves.

  • Testing your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they’re working — which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Still, 65% of us don’t.
  • Practicing your escape plan twice a year also increases the odds of survival. But 70% of us don’t.
  • Escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy, according to fire experts. Yet more than half of us think we have more time.

2020 Home Fire Survey Infographic by David M. Higgins II on Scribd

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information or download the free Red Cross Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

  • Test your smoke alarms monthly.
    • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
    • Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
    • Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.
    • Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home.
    • 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.
    • Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is made possible with generous financial donations from national partners: Lowe’s.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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