During Fire Prevention Week, being observed Oct. 3 through 9, the American Red Cross urges you to test your smoke alarms before the threat of home fires increases with cooler weather in the coming months.
The Red Cross responds to 11 percent more home fires across the Northern California Coastal Region in November through March than in warmer months. According to the National Fire Protection Association — which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” — home fires are most common in cooler months when people spend more time inside, and cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of these crises.
“Every day, people’s lives are devastated by home fires — a threat that’s increasing as the winter months approach,” said Kerrin Welsh, Regional Preparedness Manager for the Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “Help keep your family safe now by testing your smoke alarms and practicing your two-minute fire escape drill.”
How To Protect Your Family
During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your two-minute home fire escape drill — the amount of time that experts say you may have to get out before it’s too late. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information.
• Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
• Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced because components such batteries can become less reliable. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
• Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home in your escape plan.
• Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
• Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. When practicing your plan, include any devices or people that can help you to get out safely.
If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help. Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, smoke alarm installations are limited to where they’re safe to do so.
Preparing Now Can Save Your Life
Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,084 lives — including three lives in Oakland in July 2020 and five lives in San Jose in June 2021 — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas. Locally in the Northern California Coastal Region, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed 39,668 alarms and helped make 14,849 households safer since 2014. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/HomeFires.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.