Red Cross survey says most people are underprepared for a fire in their homes

In this January 2020 file photo, crews battle a structure fire on Lauritzen Street using pre-connected water line on fire engine, Colorado City, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Hildale/Colorado City Fire Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — National Fire Prevention Week is this week, and the American Red Cross is urging everyone to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan as home fires continue during COVID-19.

According to a press release from the Red Cross, the organization has responded to more than 29,000 home fires across the country since February to help more than 128,000 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning.

The National Fire Protection Association says that home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster, and they are most often caused by cooking. This is why the association is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”

“Home fires haven’t stopped during COVID-19, and neither has the need to prevent fire tragedies,” Rich Woodruff, Utah Red Cross spokesperson, said in the press release. “During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan to help protect you and your loved ones.”

Red Cross survey: Most people are underprepared

Home fires claim seven lives a day in the U.S., but a new 2020 national Red Cross survey shows most of us aren’t taking the steps to protect ourselves.

Testing your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they’re working, which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. However, the survey shows that 65% of people don’t take this simple step.

Practicing your escape plan twice a year also increases the odds of survival, but 70% of respondents said they don’t do that either.

Escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy, according to fire experts. Yet more than half of people think they have more time.

How to protect your family

During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes. For more information, click here or download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

Test your smoke alarms monthly.

  • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
  • Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the  sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.

  • Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home.
  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your 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. Learn more at Home Fire Campaign.

About the American Red Cross Home Fire Safety Survey

These findings are from a CARAVAN® Survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS on Jan. 10-12, 2020 on behalf of the American Red Cross. For the survey, a demographically representative sample of 1,004 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The precision of a CARAVAN survey can be measured using a margin of error calculation. In this case, the poll has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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