The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Disasters can strike at any time, and the most common disaster threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. As part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over a five year period, I urge you to develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in your home. When developing the plan, walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year. You should also install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. They should test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace them every ten years.
Everyone in the household should help put the emergency plan together so they know what to do if something occurs. Because everyone may not be together at home when a disaster happens, the plan should include ways to contact one another and two places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. The plan should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where to go if ordered to evacuate and what route to take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. And, don’t forget your pets! Make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
By increasing our preparedness, we will be creating a more resilient community. Together, we can make it happen!