SANTA FE — National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 4-10, and the New Mexico Chapter of the American Red Cross urges residents to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan as home fires continue during COVID-19.
Since February, the American Red Cross New Mexico Chapter has responded to more than 187 home fires in the State of New Mexico to assist more than 502 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!”
“Unfortunately, home fires haven’t stopped during COVID-19, and neither has the need to prevent fire tragedies,” said Kathy Segura-Salas, Executive Director, American Red Cross New Mexico. “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 are not taking the steps to protect ourselves.
- Testing your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they are working — which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Still, 65% of us do not.
- Practicing your escape plan twice a year also increases the odds of survival.
- 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 redcross.org/fire 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 are 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time and 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.
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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.