By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer
December 31, 2019- While celebrating the beginning of a new year, many of us make resolutions to change something in our lives. As you think about your 2020 resolutions, consider resolving to keep you and your loved ones safe from home fires year-round.
Fire preparation safety is critically important in our area. So far in 2019, the American Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Region has responded to 890 home fires. Winter is an especially prevalent time for home fires, as heating fires are the second leading cause.
In Northeast Ohio and throughout the nation, home fires are the most frequent disaster, sadly taking an average of seven lives every day in the U.S. But you can help prevent tragedies by taking two simple steps: practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less and test your smoke alarms monthly.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, placing them inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it. Smoke alarms typically need to be replaced every 10 years. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model.
- Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. Talk to children regularly about fire safety and teach them not to be afraid of firefighters.
- Create and practice a home fire escape plan until everyone in your household can escape in two minutes or less — at least twice a year. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of 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.
Additional information and free resources are at redcross.org/homefires.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN
For more than five years, the Red Cross has been working to reduce home fire deaths and injuries through its Home Fire Campaign, which grew out of an initiative that began in Cleveland. Through the campaign, Red Cross volunteers and community partners go door to door in high-risk neighborhoods to install smoke alarms and educate families about home fire safety.
So far, the campaign has saved as many as 14 lives in Northeast Ohio and 682 lives nationally. It has also reached 62,656 people locally and more than 2.2 million across the country by:
- Installing more than 2 million free smoke alarms, 62,656 of them in Northeast Ohio.
- Reaching more than 5 million children through youth preparedness programs, 16,273 of them in our region.
- Making more than 838,000 households safer from the threat of home fires. 22,308 homes are here in Northeast Ohio.
For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, to request an alarm or help with the initiative, click here.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer