By Karsten Doan, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
Nobody expects to experience a home fire. In fact, 40% of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery than experience a home fire. While most of us wish that were true, unfortunately for many, the latter happens without warning. Damages caused by home fires can range from minor kitchen burns to the loss of all sentimental mementos and personal possessions, or even the loss of a life.
Nearly 7 people die every day from a home fire and research shows the largest demographic affected are children and the elderly. Despite these staggering statistics, many people do not take the necessary precautions to help prevent home fires or prepare in case one occurs.
This week is National Fire Preparedness Week and we have the TOP 5 HOME FIRE SAFETY TIPS that can help save you or a loved one’s life in the event of a home fire!
- SOUND THE ALARM- Oftentimes, you don’t know a fire has started unless you hear an alarm. Although you may smell the smoke, it’s not our best detection method, especially if you are asleep when the fire occurs. This is why it is vital to have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, and inside and outside sleeping areas. A working smoke alarms cut the risk of death by home fire in half! If you need new smoke alarms, request yours for free at redcross.org/ntxalarmrequest.
- TEST YOUR ALARMS- Only a working smoke alarm can help to save lives. Each month you should test your smoke alarms and replace the batteries annually. Give your family the peace of mind in knowing that should a fire occur, you will all be alerted, giving everyone the extra time needed to safely escape the home.
- HAVE A PLAN- When a home fire strikes, it is unexpected and easy to let panic overwhelm you and inhibit a clear line of thought. To combat the emotional paralysis, proactively map out a plan with at least TWO ways to exit your home and each room in case your primary exit route is blocked. If you don’t have an escape plan, create one now.
- DESIGNATE A MEETING SPOT- Once you have a safe route out of your home, make sure that you and your loved ones meet in a predesignated area. Nothing is scarier during a disaster like a home fire than unaccounted for loved ones. Having a predetermined meeting spot helps reduce additional stress and provides confidence that everyone made it out of the house safely.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE- If you don’t practice your escape plan with your family, you won’t know if your plan will work or feel confident each member will know what to do should a home fire occur. Panic scrambles the mind and without practice you’re unable to go on autopilot during an emergency. The delayed reaction could be detrimental to the safety of you or a family member. Remember, on average, you have less than 2 minutes to safely exit your house, so start practicing today!
Throughout the year, Red Cross volunteers install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education in at-risk communities. Each Spring, the Red Cross launches the Sound The Alarm campaign where volunteers install 100,000 free smoke alarms in 40,000 homes in more than 100 major cities throughout the country over the course of two weeks. This annual event helps raise awareness about home fire safety and aids in reducing death and injuries that are caused by home-fires.
You can help make North Texans safer! Test your smoke alarms, practice your home fire escape plan, and encourage others to join you to help end home fires! Learn more at http://www.redcross.org/homefires.