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home : state news : state news November 27, 2020

10/5/2020 5:17:00 PM
Fire Prevention Week: Test Smoke Alarms, Practice Escape Plan
Most of us are underprepared as home fires continue during COVID-19

American Red Cross
Press Release

National Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10, and the American Red Cross of the Greater Carolinas Region urges residents to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan as home fires continue during COVID-19.

Since February, the Greater Carolinas Region has responded to more than 730 home fires in the Region to help more than 2,630 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning. The nation’s most frequent disaster, home fires are most often caused by cooking, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”

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“Unfortunately, home fires haven’t stopped during COVID-19, and neither has the need to prevent fire tragedies,” said Kris Rahe, Regional Preparedness Manager for the Greater Carolinas region, “During Fire Prevention Week, we recommend testing your smoke alarms and practicing your escape plan. These simple steps can help protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire.”

RED CROSS SURVEY: MOST OF US ARE UNDERPREPARED Home fires claim seven lives a day in the U.S., but a new 2020 national Red Cross survey shows most of us aren’t taking the steps to protect ourselves.

  • Testing your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they’re working — which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Still, 65% of us don’t.
  • Practicing your escape plan twice a year also increases the odds of survival. But 70% of us don’t.
  • Escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy, according to fire experts. Yet more than half of us think we have more time.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes. Visit for more information or download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

Test your smoke alarms monthly.

  • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • 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 need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.

  • Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home.
  • 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.
  • Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO RESPOND Before the busy winter home fire season, Red Cross is seeking 67 additional Disaster Action Team volunteers to join the team in the Greater Carolinas Region. Volunteers are needed to join their local Disaster Action Team to respond to disasters including home fires to provide comfort, hope, and resources to those impacted. COVID has not stopped service delivery, it has changed how we provide the service to affected families. Disaster Action Team responses are being done virtually, with limited onsite presence. Disaster Action Team members are assessing needs with those impacted by home fires over the phone. We are also offering delivery of financial resources for lodging after a home fire with limited contact. To become a volunteer, go to

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is made possible with generous financial donations from our national partner Lowe’s, statewide partner Blue Cross Blue Shield, and regional partners Duke Energy-Piedmont Natural Gas, Columbia Forest Products, and Spectrum.

About the American Red Cross Home Fire Safety Survey: These findings are from a CARAVAN® Survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS on January 10-12, 2020 on behalf of the American Red Cross. For the survey, a demographically representative sample of 1,004 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The precision of a CARAVAN survey can be measured using a margin of error calculation. In this case, the poll has a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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