By Nate Russell, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
Every day, seven people die in the United States as the result of a home fire. That’s so many, that statistically speaking, there’s a very likely chance that someone may pass away before you finish reading this article.
That’s why the American Red Cross has pledged to cut down the number of home fire related injuries and fatalities by at least 20% by 2020, by initiating the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in 2014. Ever since, we’ve been visiting homes, educating families, and installing life-saving smoke alarms for absolutely no cost to renters and homeowners.
As we observe October as National Fire Safety Month, let’s take a look at our progress.
Since 2014, the American Red Cross has:
• Made more than 215,000 homes safer through installs or through education.
• Installed almost 500,000 smoke alarms in living spaces.
• Engaged more than half a million young people in fire safety education.
• And most importantly, saved at least 111 lives (as verified through media reports) by installing smoke alarms in homes.
And the numbers continue to climb as we spread awareness of the initiative.
There are many ways you too can make your home safer and more prepared for a home fire.
First, take some time this month to check your smoke alarms. Test your alarms once a month, and change the batteries every six months. You should also take a look at the date on the back of your alarms – if they are over ten years old, they need to be replaced. Then take a count of how many alarms you have. You should have one in every bedroom and one in the hallway.
The next thing you can do is to have a plan. Make sure you and everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire. Have a common meeting spot in mind – whether it’s the driveway next door or the tree across the street, make sure everyone knows to meet at the same spot. Practice and plan your escape routes so that you never have to second guess what to do during an actual fire.
Finally, have a kit. Assemble a simple kit that has anything you may need if you lose everything else. Your ID or driver’s license, any medications you may need, a radio and flashlight, and a small first aid kit are some good things to have on hand.
Help us reach our goal of reducing the number of home fire related injuries and deaths by staying safe this October and helping us spread awareness of the Red Cross mission.