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Practice Fire Safety Year Round
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Red Cross
 
April 8, 2009

Home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation.  Unfortunately, they kill more people in the United States each year than all other types of disasters combined.  Cooking fires are the most common cause of home fires, followed by those caused by methods people use to heat their homes.

The American Red Cross responded to more than 60,000 local disasters in 2008 and the majority were home fires. Red Cross offers these tips to make your home “fire safe”:

Use smoke alarms

  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home.
  • If people sleep with doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too. Use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month. When necessary, replace batteries immediately. Replace all batteries once a year.
  • Vacuum away cobwebs and dust from your smoke alarms monthly.
  • Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time. Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Get training from the fire department in how to use them.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.

Plan your escape routes

  • Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them and store them near the window.
  • Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet after escaping.
  • Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

Escape safely

  • Once you are out, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor's home.
  • If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke to your exit.
  • If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is warm, use your second way out.
  • If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a bright-colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.

For more information on home fire safety, such as tips on what to do if a fire starts while you are cooking , visit our web site.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.


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