BRATTLEBORO -- This week is National Fire Prevention Week and the American Red Cross is urging families and businesses to learn how to protect themselves and others from fires. 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.
"We respond to about one home fire every nine minutes across the country," stated Doug Bishop, Director of Communications for the Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross, in a press release. "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. 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 at least 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. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.
Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips.
Businesses, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. According to the United State 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. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.
In addition to helping families and businesses prepare their homes and facilities for potential fires, the Red Cross is there to help those in need when fires break out. The Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross responded to more than 120 home and apartment fires last year, and knows well the devastation that a fire can have on a family.
"In order to continue responding to disasters like fires at homes and businesses here in our region, the Red Cross depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses in the community," added Bishop. To donate, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.