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Two minutes may be all you have to escape a home fire — the nation’s most frequent disaster 

During Fire Prevention Week, practice your escape plan and test your smoke alarms; residents in need can contact Red Cross to request a free smoke alarm installation

CHARLESTON, WV, OCTOBER 6, 2022 — This Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region urges everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape plan and test their smoke alarms to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent disaster.

Two minutes is the amount of time that fire experts say you may have to safely escape a home fire before it’s too late.  These crises account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S.  Locally, the Red Cross assisted nearly 1,040 families who experienced a disaster last year with 88% of those were home fires and our home fire responses are 45% higher during cold months than warmer times of year.  

“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Week serves as an important reminder to prepare now,” said Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region. “Practice your two-minute home fire escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly to help keep your family safe.” 

HOW TO PRACTICE YOUR TWO-MINUTE DRILL Practice your plan with everyone in your household; also teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do in an emergency. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including a printable escape plan and safety tips for cooking and home heating — the leading causes of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.”

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you or a loved one is deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. Visit redcross.org/ASL-disaster-resources for more information, including resources in American Sign Language.
  • Broll:  https://vimeopro.com/americanredcross/home-fire-b-roll

IF YOU NEED HELP 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 or call 1-844-216-8286 for help.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,393 lives — including 90 in the Central Appalachia Region — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. Locally in the Central Appalachia Region, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed over 47,000 alarms and helped make nearly 18,500 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners: Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, American Electric Power Foundation, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Plamondon Hospitality Partners, PNC Bank, Community Foundation of Washington County, BHE GT&S, Camp Landing, The Dow Chemical Company, Kanawha County Commission, Marathon Petroleum, State Farm Insurance Companies, Scioto Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, West Virginia American Water and Truist West Virginia Foundation.