Jennifer Sanders is the Executive Director of the South Central and Southeast Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross. Their mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. In honor of National Preparedness Month, we invited Jennifer to share with us an initiative that the American Red Cross is currently coordinating to help prepare our communities in the face of a disaster.
In a typical year, home fires kill more people than all other natural disasters combined in the United States. To help save lives, the American Red Cross is asking every household in America to take two simple steps: have a home fire escape plan and check your smoke alarms regularly.
Step 1 – Create a fire escape plan
Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. We urge that every household create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family until everyone can escape in less than two minutes.
When creating your fire escape plan, here are some key points you should focus on:
- Escape plans should include at least two ways to escape every room.
- Select a meeting spot, somewhere that is a safe distance from the fire, where family members can meet.
- Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year.
Step 2 – Check your smoke alarms
Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in half in cases of home fires. Want to know how to make sure your smoke alarms are functioning properly?
- Test smoke alarms once a month.
- Change the batteries at least once a year – if your model requires it – or purchase and install smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries.
- Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms.
If you or someone you know does not have working smoke alarms, the American Red Cross will install them at no cost. It’s easy to sign up for free smoke alarms by going to getasmokealarm.org. Volunteers and other local partners team up to install the smoke alarms and share fire safety preparedness information during a home visit.
Home fires represent a significant threat to our communities, killing seven people every day. Most of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms. The American Red Cross is committed to reducing deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent over five years.
The American Red Cross couldn’t do this without the support of our corporate sponsors, partners and volunteers. Thank you to all the volunteer members of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Disaster Response Team for partnering with us to help make our communities safe!