While the pandemic caused many things to slow down or stop, according to the American Red Cross, home fires continue and, in fact, since January 2021, increased 40 percent, compared to this time last year.
To help families prevent and protect themselves from these tragic events, the Red Cross announces the annual Sound the Alarm campaign running April 8 to May 8.
Of the more than 62,000 disasters requiring a Red Cross response last year, home fires accounted for the overwhelming majority. In an effort to spare families the trauma associated with losing one’s home, Sound the Alarm educates communities and stresses preparation tips and strategies.
“Home fires are such a devastating experience for those who we help when it happens,” said Mary Jane Coffman, Red Cross disaster program manager. “That’s why the Red Cross is so driven to do as much as possible to try to either prevent it or help people to be as prepared as much as possible in the event a house fire does happen.”
In a home fire, family members often have two minutes or less to escape. Families can be proactive and better prepared by developing an emergency plan which includes escape routes from each room in the home and an agreed upon meeting spot where family members go after leaving the house.
‘You have less than two minutes,” she said. “It’s shorter than ever, based on the way homes are built and on how fires spread. That’s why it is critical to already have a plan built into your muscle-memory so that you and your family know what you are going to do. The more you’ve got a home fire emergency plan in place, the more you can deal with the unexpected when it happens,” Coffman said
Coffman adds that families need to practice a two-minute escape drill and test their smoke alarms monthly.
To help facilitate the training, the campaign also offers community members an opportunity to volunteer to provide preparedness education in their own social networks, such as friends, neighbors and coworkers.
For more information on how Sound the Alarm, please go online to www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm or call 1-800-RED CROSS.