This weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service and a continued commitment to serve our communities, Red Cross volunteers will visit neighborhoods in Sacramento, Chico, and Turlock to help residents be fire safe.
The community canvass events – during which volunteers will also install smoke detectors in homes in need – is part of a national Red Cross campaign aimed to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years.
The campaign seeks to increase the use of smoke alarms in neighborhoods with higher frequencies of home fires and to encourage all Americans to develop and practice their fire escape plans.
“Smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a fire in half, which is why it is critical for all households to have them and test them regularly,” said Kathleen Weis, Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross Gold Country Region. “We have seen an increase in home fires throughout our region, on average responding to one every 11 hours, so it is critical that residents take action to reduce their risk and improve their safety in the event of a home fire. Simply testing your smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home can save lives.”
Many Americans Mistaken about Their Ability to Survive a Fire
The Red Cross fire prevention campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire.
The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. 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. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they actually have. Nearly 18 percent erroneously believe they have ten minutes or more to get out.
When asked about their confidence levels in escaping a burning home, about 42 percent of those polled said they could get out in two minutes. Nearly seven in 10 parents (69 percent) believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help.
However, the poll showed few actions had been taken that would support the level of confidence of parents about their children’s ability to escape a fire:
- Less than one in five families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) have actually practiced home fire drills.
- Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
- Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.
Four Fire Safety Steps
There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:
- If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
- If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
- Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
- Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?
The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States – and the vast majority of those are home fires. Over the next several months, the Red Cross will team up with local fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms in neighborhoods with high numbers of homes fires.
You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
People can visit www.redcross.org to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to find out the location of local smoke alarm installation events
The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.