Home fires are the most common disaster in this country and sadly, these fires claim seven US lives every day. This year is proving no different. Tragically, since the beginning of 2022, 431 people have lost their lives in home fires.
Since January 1, 2022, the American Red Cross has already responded to more than 10,000 home fires, providing help to more than 37,000 people.
Home fire safety
The American Red Cross highlights the key steps that residents can follow to help them stay safe, should a fire breakout happen in their home. Residents can stay protected from home fires by taking two simple steps – test the smoke alarms monthly and practice the fire escape plan.
Test the smoke alarms monthly – Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Place smoke alarms on each level of the home and inside and outside bedrooms, and sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year, if the model requires it is also important. Also, check the manufacturer’s date of the smoke alarms. If they are 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Practice the fire escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes. To create an effective home fire escape plan, include at least two ways to exit every room in the home. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from the home, such as the neighbor’s home or landmarks like a specific tree in the front yard, where everyone knows to meet. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.
Steps to help heat homes safely
One of the leading causes of home fires is home heating and space heaters are most often responsible for these fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That’s why the following key pointers are important to keep in mind for homes that have space heaters:
- If using a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically, if the heater falls over.
- Place the heater on a level, hard and non-flammable surface in the home.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished, before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat the home.
- Keep fire in the fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
With everyone spending more time at home, residents may be spending more time cooking meals. Cooking is the leading cause of US home fires.
Since then, the effort has helped save more than 1,200 lives and installed more than 2.2 million free smoke alarms, thereby helping to make more than 966,000 homes safer across the country.
To read more exclusive features and latest news please see our February issue here.