Test fire alarms before cold weather arrives, bringing increase in home fires


INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – This week is Fire Prevention Week, and the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross is urging residents to test their smoke alarms before the threat of home fires increases with cold weather.

The Indiana Region said it has installed more than 220 smoke alarms, provided fire preparedness programs and made over 140 homes safer so far this year as part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

Launched in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has reached more than 2.4 million people and saved more than 1,000 lives across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires, which take an average of seven lives each day in the U.S. Since the program’s inception, the Indiana Region and local partners have:

  • Installed over 60,000 free smoke alarms
  • Made more than 28,000 households safer from the threat of home fires
  • Reached over 18,000 children through youth preparedness programs

The Red Cross said it responds to 27% more home fires from November to March than in warmer months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires are most common in cooler months when people spend more time inside where cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of these crises.

“Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster, and we want to ensure everyone knows how to protect themselves and their loved ones from these everyday crises,” said Leslie Montgomery, Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross – Indiana Region. “We are grateful for the support of our volunteers and partners to help prevent needless fire tragedies.”

Two Minutes to Escape

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. As part of the campaign, the Red Cross is asking every household to talk with their loved ones about fire safety and take two simple steps: Check your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan at least twice a year.

Visit redcross.org/homefires for free fire safety information and resources, including a home fire escape plan to develop and practice with your household.

How to Protect Your Family

During Fire Prevention Week, the Red Cross asks parents to teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.

Tips to keep your family safe:

  • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. 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 said it may be able to assist. Contact your nearest Red Cross for help. Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, smoke alarm installations are limited to where they’re safe to do so.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information.

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