As one of the nation’s leading disaster relief organizations, the American Red Cross responds to thousands of disasters each year. While many might associate the organization’s outreach efforts with major catastrophic events such as hurricanes and wildfires, the American Red Cross reports that home fires represent more than 93 percent of its disaster response efforts. In fact, home fires represent one of the biggest disaster threats to families in the United States. Fires kill more Americans each year than all-natural disasters combined and affect people from all backgrounds and geographic locations. Given these startling statistics, the American Red Cross suggests tips, aimed at reducing deaths and injuries resulting from home fires. As such, I would like to share some simple steps you can take to protect your family and home in the event of a home fire. The American Red Cross has created a Home Fire Campaign to help families prepare for a home fire. The American Red Cross recommends taking the following steps in protecting your home:
• Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them often and replace the batteries at least once a year.
• Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
• Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
• Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
• Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire” to alert everyone that they must get out.
• Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
• Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
Also, it is important to develop and practice home fire escape plans with your family. If you need help in developing your unique plan, the American Red Cross has made fire escape plan worksheets available on its website at Home Fire Preparedness.
It is important to check fire alarms every month to make certain they are working properly in the event of a fire and the batteries do not need to be replaced. When smoke alarms fail to operate correctly, it is generally due to missing, disconnected or depleted batteries. It is important to note that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years from the manufacturer’s date listed on the back of the alarm. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes where there is no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm, which is why this is so important.
In addition to following the American Red Cross’s tips to plan for fire safety, I would encourage you to take the time to read more information about the different ways you can protect your home from a fire. This includes keeping flammable objects a safe distance from items that get hot, such as heaters and stoves, never leaving a candle unattended, and learning about safe cooking methods. To read more about the different ways you can protect your home and family from fires, please visit the American Red Cross website at Home Fire Safety. The National Fire Protection Association also has information on fire, electrical and related hazards at National Fire Protection Association.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. My offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns, or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32