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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Prepare for Home Fires - The Most Common Disaster

By Samantha Edwards

The American Red Cross experiences an increase in home fires during the winter. Encouraging households to be prepared in the event of a home fire is part of the Red Cross mission. Fire preparedness could save your life or the life of someone else.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to be prepared is to have smoke alarms installed both inside and outside of bedrooms. Make sure you check that the alarms are working at least once a month and replace batteries once a year. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of death by home fires in half.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Nearly 70 percent of us have left the kitchen while cooking, so be sure to keep an eye on what you fry!

Escape plans also help save lives. Make sure everyone in your home knows at least two ways to escape every room in the home. All members of the household must learn how to escape within two minutes of a fire. Practice this safety measure at least twice a year.

Communication is the key to security and safety. All members of the household should know the family meeting spot outside the home and who to contact if lost or unable to find other family members. Everyone, including children, should know how to call 9-1-1.

If a fire does occur, yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself. If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch. If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you. If exit routes are blocked by smoke, heat, or flame, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.

Clothes may catch on fire. Remember to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Stop what you are doing. Drop to the ground and cover your face, if you can. Roll over and over or back and forth until the flames go out. Running will only make the fire burn faster. Once the flames are out, cool the burned skin with water for three to five minutes. Call for medical attention.

Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.

Learn more about home fire preparedness by visiting

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