Seven times a day someone in the United States dies in a fire. In 2014, the American Red Cross launched a nationwide multiyear campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. As part to the campaign, the Red Cross is joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires.
At this time of year in particular – when we “spring forward” for Daylight Savings Time, the Red Cross encourages everyone to “Turn and Test” their smoke alarms. Test the alarms to make sure they are working, and change the batteries.
Red Cross smoke alarm installers like Mory Fuhrmann and Deanna (Dee Dee) English are on the ground, installing smoke alarms and educating residents about fire safety. The two recently crisscrossed Franklin County, making seven home visits to install the alarms in neighborhoods ranging from Old Towne East in the heart of Columbus to more rural Lockbourne. Homeowners included a couple setting up a home daycare center, a disabled couple, and residents of a middle –class neighborhood.
Whatever the circumstances they encountered, Mory and Dee Dee followed the same procedure. First, they assessed the home for presence and functionality of smoke alarms. In most cases, it was necessary to install new ones, ensuring that each level of the home had working alarm, and that there was one outside each sleeping area. The alarms they installed would last for 10 years and the batteries don’t need to be changed, making them user-friendly.
While Mory installed the smoke alarms, Dee Dee offered the residents fire safety information. She encouraged them not to use extension cords. Sources of heat, such as space heaters and stoves, needed to be at least three feet away from anything that could burn. Nothing should be left cooking on an unattended stove.
If a fire does start, residents have a little as two minutes to get out of the home, so having an escape plan saves lives. As part of that plan, every member of the household should know at least two ways to get out of the home. There should also be a pre-arranged meeting place away from the home. People should practice their escape plan regularly to make sure they can get out in less than two minutes.
So this weekend, remember to “Turn and Test.” Check your home for fire hazards and eliminate them. Practice your escape plan.
For more information, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the Emergency app at redcross.org/apps.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at mailto:@RedCross.