Des Moines, Iowa — A fire in the home is the biggest disaster threat to American families, more of a risk than floods, hurricanes or tornadoes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half.
Fortunately, most home fires can be prevented. October 4-10 is National Fire Prevention Week and the Red Cross hopes Iowans will use this week as reminder to take steps to keep themselves and their families safe.
The Red Cross says there are ways to help avoid a fire in the home:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area, placing them on the ceiling or high on the wall.
- Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom.
- Test the smoke alarms regularly. Install new batteries every year.
- Get new smoke alarms every ten years.
- Develop a fire escape plan, and practice it.
- Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
Iowa Region Red Cross volunteers have responded to more than 450 home fires in 2015, offering help and hope to more than 1,300 people.
In just one year, the Red Cross’ nationwide Home Fire Campaign is credited with saving at least 26 lives. More than 63,000 families are safer thanks to the smoke alarms and safety education they received in their homes from Red Cross volunteers, firefighters and other community partners. And more than 311,000 children have learned to be safer in emergencies from Red Cross volunteers and apps.
The Home Fire Campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working alongside fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross and its partners have installed more than 125,000 smoke alarms in nearly 2,400 cities and towns.
Since 2012, the Red Cross in Iowa and partners including local fire departments, the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have installed more than 4,500 new smoke alarms in Iowa. In 2015, Red Cross volunteers and partner organizations have helped install 1,500 smoke alarms in Riverton, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Sidney, Correctionville and Burlington. In October, Red Cross volunteers will help install free smoke alarms and create fire escape plans in Davenport on Saturday, October 10, and in Fort Dodge and Clinton on Saturday, October 24.
GET INVOLVED: People can visit 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 about smoke alarm installation events in their community. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.