Monday, October 14, 2013

Hot Tips for Fire Prevention Month

Prevent, Plan, and Practice!

by Lisa Newman, Volunteer Contributor  

Many people know that the American Red Cross responds to a high number of emergencies each year - more than 70,000 annually! But did you know that home fires are the most common disaster Americans face every year? Fire Prevention Week has just ended but we have the remainder of the month (October is Fire Prevention Month!) to prepare our families and homes. 

Fast Facts:
  • Every 8 minutes, the Red Cross responds to disaster, the majority of which are home fire.
  • Home fires kill more people in the United Sates than all natural disasters combined.
  • Only 26% of Americans are prepared with a strategy and rehearsed escape plan.


  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least 3 feet away from anything that gets hot, like a stove.
  • Avoid smoking in bed.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.


  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year.
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows at least 2 ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Make sure everyone in your home learns how to use them ahead of time by reading the manufacturer's instructions and understanding the steps to use them. Store them near the window where they will be used.


  • Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year. Designate a meeting spot outside that's a safe distance from your home. Make sure all family members know the meeting spot.
  • Have your family practice escaping from your home at different times of the day. Practice crawling low and how to dial 9-1-1. For additional fire preparedness tips and escape planning, click here.
  • Teach your family to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if their clothes catch on fire. Practice this with your children.

Simple Safety:

  • Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
  • If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. If possible, place a towel under the door and call the fire department to alert them to your location in the home. Go to the window for help, waving a bright colored cloth or a flashlight. Do no break the window. Instead, open it from the top and bottom. 
  • Once you get out of your home, stay out under all circumstance until a fire official gives you permission to go back inside.

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