by Michelle Tanner, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas
The Red Cross responds to home fires more than any other disaster. Every day seven people die, and 36 people are injured in a home fire. There are simple steps you can do to reduce the possibility of a fire in your home.
You can get this information and more on the Red Cross emergency app for your mobile device. To download the app, go to the Apple or Android Play Store and select the Red Cross Emergency App. It’s free. And it gives you tons of information on all types of emergencies, tools to use during an emergency, and information to use during major disasters.
Prevent Home Fires
- Keep flammable items at least three feet away from heat sources. Use caution by keeping curtains, clothes, furniture, and such away from space heaters, the oven and stove, and other things that heat up fast.
- Do not smoke in bed, while drowsy or on medication, or in a home where oxygen is in use.
- Turn off portable heaters, space heaters, etc., when you leave a room or when you go to sleep.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom. And then test the alarms and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords.
- Never leave a room with a candle still lit.
- Talk to children about the danger of fire, matches, and lighters and keep these items out of their reach.
There are also simple things you can do to prepare your family for a possible home fire.
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan. How many ways are there to exit a room in case one way is blocked? Once you leave the house, where do you all meet up?
- Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year to keep the plan fresh in the minds of all family members.
- A fire fighter once suggested to me to have small children visit the local fire department. A fire fighter in full equipment looks like a monster to small children and they will get scared in a critical moment. Also, ambulances are frightening to someone in a crisis.
- Keep a fire extinguisher for household use ready and charged in your home, closest to the potential fire point (near the stove, grill, etc.)
You can also find more information at redcross.org. Once at the website select Get Help and see the resources under How to Prepare for Emergencies.
The Red Cross responds to a home fire every thirty seconds, every day of the year. If you would like to volunteer to help those in your community affected by disasters, please register at www.redcross.org/volunteer.