Every 8 minutes. That’s how often the American Red Cross responds to a disaster. Although hurricanes and tornadoes grab the headlines, the overwhelming majority of the disasters we respond to are house fires. Just in Southern MN, we responded to 148 house fires last year! Fires can happen so quickly, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. This is National Fire Prevention Week, so here are a few ideas you can use to be prepared:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside or immediately outside of every bedroom.
- Check alarms monthly by pressing the test button, and change the batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
- Create a fire escape plan: identify two escape routes from every room of your home. Choose a meeting place a short distance from your home so family members can find each other.
- Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as heaters or stoves.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
Unlike hurricanes, many home fires are preventable. The Red Cross is ready to help whenever a home fire strikes–but we’d be perfectly willing to go more than 8 minutes between them!