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Red Cross warns of increase of home fires during colder months as part of Fire Prevention Week

This Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross 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. — where home fire responses are 30% higher during cold months than warmer times of year. In Tennessee, that percentage is 36% higher during winter months.

“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Week serves as an important reminder to prepare now,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive director for Tennessee 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.”

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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.

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 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 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 Tennessee, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed 53,081 alarms and helped make 21,948 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

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