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Image of a firefighter putting out a house fire.
During Fire Prevention Week, practice your escape plan and test your smoke alarms; residents in need can contact Red Cross to request a free smoke alarm installation.

Two Minutes May Be All You Have to Escape a House Fire

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES — This Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter 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.

Image of the American Red Cross logo. 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. These crises account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the American Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. — where home fire responses are 30% higher during cold months than warmer times of year.

“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Week serves as an important reminder to prepare now,” said Ethan Walker, Regional Prevention and Preparedness Manager. “Practice your two-minute home fire escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly to help keep your family safe.”

How to Practice Your Two-Minute Safety Drill

Image of the National Fire Protection Association logo. 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, which are 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.

Image of a firefighter carrying a baby. Visit redcross.org/ASL-disaster-resources for more information, including resources in American Sign Language.

If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Residents who need assistance can visit endhomefires.org to schedule an appointment for a free smoke alarm installation. During the 20-minute home visits, Red Cross volunteers will also share information on the causes of home fires, how to prevent them, what to do if a fire starts and how to create a home fire escape plan.

Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,393 lives — including 14 in Central California — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. Located in the Central Valley, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed 11,283 alarms and helped make 4,863 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners: Bank of the Sierra, Bitwise, Coarsegold Market, North Fork Supermarket, PennyMac, and The Wonderful Company.

For more information, visit soundthealarm.org/centralcalifornia.

About the American Red Cross

Image of firefighters putting out a house fire. 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 them on Twitter at @RedCross.

Check out this short video on how to make a fire escape plan! 


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