Written by: Melanie Benson, volunteer
Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Every year the Red Cross and its volunteers respond to nearly 66,000 disasters. You may be surprised, however, to learn that the majority of Red Cross disaster responders are not deployed to natural weather events, but to home fires.
On average, seven people die every day in the U.S. from home fires. Thirty six people suffer injuries as a result of home fires, and property damage results cost over $7 billion. In homes where there are no smoke detectors, the mortality rate is over 50%. In response to these shocking statistics, the Red Cross and its partners have initiated a Fire Safety Campaign that seeks to reduce death and injury from home fires by 25% by 2020.
Since 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has made progress: 159 lives have been saved and over 702,060 smoke detectors have been installed. Yet, work remains to meet the Red Cross goal.
Get prepared at home: Families may have as little as two minutes to escape after a fire starts. By maintaining smoke detectors as an early warning device, and establishing an escape plan, families can be prepared. Check out other top fire safety tips for your home and family here.
Teach our kids: Children under the age of five are twice as likely to die in a home fire. Taking sensible precautions, such as keeping matches and lighters out of reach, and teaching children how to escape from a fire will help keep the most vulnerable family members safe. Tips for teaching fire safety for kids can be found here.
The Red Cross also sponsors the Pillowcase Project to teach preparedness and coping skills in dealing with a variety of emergency situations. To request a presentation for your classroom or youth group, visit us here.
Reach the community: One of the largest Red Cross Fire Safety initiatives is the smoke detector installation project. Working with fire departments and other partners, volunteers deploy as teams into neighborhoods to install free 10-year smoke alarms and replace smoke alarm batteries. For those who have been waiting for a way to volunteer with the Red Cross, there is no experience required to join this campaign! The Red Cross provides brief training before teams canvas communities with the mission of educating people on fire safety and reaching out to those who need assistance in the installation of smoke detectors. Smoke Detector Installation days are ongoing and spread across our Capital region. Sign up and get involved to save lives!