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Two minutes may be all you have to escape a home fire — the nation’s most frequent disaster

by Minden Press-Herald

During Fire Prevention Week, practice your escape plan and test your smoke alarms

[SHREVEPORT, OCTOBER 10, 2022] — This Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the American Red Cross of Louisiana 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. Louisiana Red Cross responded to nearly 1,400 home fires in 2021, and its home fire responses are 29% higher during cold months (November-March) than warmer times of year (April-October).

“We know the threat of home fires rises as temperatures cool down, as we see the volume of our responses go up this time of year,” said Shawn Schulze, Chief Executive Officer of Louisiana Red Cross. “We’re asking everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape drill this week and to test their smoke alarms monthly to help keep their families safe. Preparedness saves lives.”

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.”

  • 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.

BY THE NUMBERS Louisiana Red Cross volunteers respond nearly four times a day to home fires throughout the state to provide comfort, care, hope and resources to affected individuals and families. Here in the North Louisiana Chapter last year, the Red Cross responded to 450 home fires.

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. Visit SoundtheAlarm.org/Louisiana to request a free smoke alarm installation.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,393 lives — including 27 in Louisiana — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. In Louisiana, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed nearly 42,000 alarms and helped make nearly 22,000 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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