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American Red Cross Stresses Family Preparedness During National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13


The American Red Cross urges families to prepare for and take action to prevent home fires during National Fire Prevention Week—Practice Your Escape Plan, October 7-13. Home fires are not only the most common disaster that the Red Cross responds to but also the most preventable. Nationally, the number of home fires the Red Cross responds to is up 10 percent since the year 2000. Alarmingly, only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan, according to a May 2006 poll conducted by ORC International on behalf of the Red Cross.

“Preparing for a home fire doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or training, and Fire Prevention Week is a great time to get started,” said Red Cross preparedness expert Heidi Taylor. “In addition to having working smoke alarms on each level of your home, one of the easiest ways to prevent a tragedy is to develop and practice a home fire escape plan so that every family member knows how to escape quickly and safely.”

The American Red Cross recommends the following when creating your family escape plan:

* Identify two ways to escape from every room in the home.
* Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
* Select a safe location away from the home where your family can meet after escaping.
* Consider purchasing and storing escape ladders for rooms above ground level and make sure to learn how to use them.
* If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out.
* If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke.
* Before escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is warm, use your second escape route.
* If smoke, heat or flames block both of your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Place a rolled towel underneath the door. Signal for help by waving a brightly colored cloth or shining a flashlight at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and let them know your exact location inside the home.
* Once you’ve escaped your home, stay out.

Last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 74,000 disasters in communities across the United States, 93 percent of which were fire related. Red Cross chapters nationwide depend on the generous support of financial donors to respond to their community members who are affected by home fires. You can help ensure the Red Cross can be ready to respond and meet the emergency needs of disaster victims by making a financial contribution to your local chapter by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or visiting today.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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