The American Red Cross is warning families and businesses to protect themselves and others from fires in observance of National Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 7-13.
In late September, for example, the Red Cross Northern New York Chapter provided shelter, food, clothing, emotional support and other assistance to four people who were displaced by a fire at their home in Gouverneur.
Last year, the Red Cross responded to about 63,000 home fires across the country by providing comfort and basic necessities to more than 82,000 families.
The American Red Cross responds to about one home fire every nine minutes across the country, according to Red Cross Northern New York Chapter’s Jane Gendron,
“The best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to install a smoke alarm and develop and practice a fire escape plan,” she said. “Fires can spread very quickly, so everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm.”
Additional recommendations include: Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button. Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan twice a year. Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies.
Businesses should also be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. According to the United States Fire Association, non-residential building fires resulted in $2.4 billion in losses in 2010. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating Program at www.readyrating.org. Those who complete a free, online assessment of current readiness receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.
To make a donation, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcross.org.