Fire Prevention Week: Practice your escape plan and test your smoke alarms

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American Red Cross of Western Colorado 

This Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), the American Red Cross of Western Colorado urges everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape plan and test their smoke alarms to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent disaster.

Two minutes is the amount of time that fire experts say you may have to safely escape a home fire before it’s too late. These crises account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. — where home fire responses are 23 percent higher during cold months than warmer times of year.

“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Week serves as an important reminder to prepare now,” said Eric Myers, executive director of the American Red Cross of Western Colorado. “Practice your two-minute home fire escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly to help keep your family safe.”

How to practice your two-minute drill

Practice your plan with everyone in your household; also teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do in an emergency. 

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including a printable escape plan and safety tips for cooking and home heating — the leading causes of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.”

Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home in your escape plan.

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.

Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and 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 old or older, they likely need to be replaced because components such as batteries can become less reliable. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.

Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you or a loved one is deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. Visit redcross.org/ASL-disaster-resources for more information, including resources in American Sign Language.

If you need help

If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help.

Home fire campaign
save lives 

Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,393 lives — including eight in Colorado and Wyoming — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. Locally, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed 29,087 alarms and helped make 14,880 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

About the American
Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.