Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall into Fire Prevention Week

The leaves are changing, it's getting a little chilly outside, there's football on the weekends, and the coffee shops are all serving pumpkin-flavored drinks and donuts. That, of course, can mean only one thing: Fall is here. But along with the beautiful colors and Halloween celebrations comes the renewed use of furnaces and space heaters, which means added danger of house fires. So it's no coincidence that National Fire Prevention Week begins on Sunday. 

Did you know that the American Red Cross responds to about one house fire every nine minutes across the country? Here in Western New York, we provided emergency assistance including food, clothing, temporary shelter and emotional support to over 1,000 people displaced by fires last year. Just two days ago, our volunteers gave hotel and food vouchers to two people after a fire on Leddy Street in Buffalo.

Our Disaster Action Team responds to an average of more than a fire a day in Erie & Niagara Counties, but we would much rather help the community prevent fires than respond to them. We got a head start on Fire Prevention Week with this past weekend's Fire Safety Day event in Buffalo's Schiller Park neighborhood. During that event, NYS's Fire Safety House gave us all a smokey, first-hand look at how difficult it can be to see in a fire and the importance of knowing your escape routes before a fire. Here's some things you can do now that will help keep you and your loved ones safe in case fire:

  • Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.
  • Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.

Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips. 

While this might be the official Fire Prevention Week, fire safety is really a year-round job. To schedule a free disaster preparedness education program at your school, business or organization, call (716) 878-2230. And remember, the Red Cross relies on your generous support to be able to respond to fires and other disasters here in Western New York. To make a donation, click here, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (charges will appear on your cell phone bill).

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