The American Red Cross responds to a home fire every nine minutes, making it the biggest disaster threat people face in this country.
Over the weekend, over 100 people were left homeless after a fire ravaged a condominium outside of Philadelphia. In Phoenix, over 50 were left without a place to live. In both these situations, the American Red Cross responded to the needs of the victims, providing shelter and comfort as they rebuild their lives.
“We respond to about 63,000 home fires every year,” said Charley Shimanski, Senior Vice President, Red Cross Disaster Services. “Home fires can strike quickly and without warning, so the best thing families can do to be protected is to install smoke alarms and develop and practice a fire escape plan.”
For Fire Prevention Week, we want to keep you up-to-date on fire safety for your home or business.
As the costs of heating bills rise, many people are switching to alternative sources of heat. The Red Cross recommends that everyone has their furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, and stoves inspected and cleaned before using this winter. When considering space heaters, it is important to look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
In regards to all these alternative sources of heat, there are a few tips to keep you safe this winter:
- Keep all flammable objects away from heating devices. Paper, clothing, bedding, curtains, or rugs should be kept at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Before leaving home or going to bed, turn off all space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
It is also crucial to have a fire escape plan in your home or business. The Red Cross recommends that every household or office develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year. It is also important to have at least two ways to escape from every room and a designated place to meet outside.
Other safety steps include:
- Follow the escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
- Download the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.
Visit here for additional fire safety tips.