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Did you know?

The American Red Cross responded to more than 73,000 disasters in communities across the United States last year and 92% of these were fire related. In the United States, a home fire is reported every 79 seconds, and someone dies from a home fire every 135 minutes.
  • More than 80 percent (or 4 out of 5) of Americans do not recognize that home fires are the greatest and most common disaster threat.

  • Only 26% of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

  • Since fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined, the Red Cross urges families to use Red Cross resources to develop a fire escape plan and to take steps toward fire prevention and safety.

  • Home fires affect Americans from all backgrounds and geographic locations. However, African Americans in this country are disproportionately affected by home fires, and account for 25 percent of all fire deaths while they represent less than 13 percent of the population. (U.S. Fire Administration

  • African American children are 2.5 times more likely to die in a residential fire than the rest of the nation’s African American population.

  • Among all Americans, children under five account for 14 percent of home fire deaths, assigning them a risk twice the national average.

  • Adults 65 and older face a risk twice the average of dying in a home fire, and people 85 and older are three-and-a-half times more likely to die in a fire.

  • Approximately 70 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Cooking fires (October)
  • Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.

  • Two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove.

  • To prevent kitchen fires, the Red Cross recommends that you keep all potential fuel sources, including potholders and food wrappers, at least three feet away from heat sources while cooking. To help prevent fires, turn off stoves and ranges if the responsible adult leaves the kitchen.

Heating fires (November-February)
  • Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires, and are generally caused by functioning or malfunctioning central heating units, fixed or portable local heating units, fireplaces, chimneys and water heaters.

  • Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.

  • Space heaters account for 66 percent of all home heating fires.

  • Red Cross chapters are committed not only to responding to help meet the needs of home fire victims but also to teaching people the skills they need to keep their families safe from home fires and other disasters.

  • Preventing home fires doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or training. There are several simple steps that all families can take to protect their home and family members from fires and the Red Cross can help.

  • To prevent fires before they start, the American Red Cross recommends:

  • Extinguish candles before leaving a room. Never leave burning candles unattended.

  • Keep sources of fuel, such as paper, clothing, bedding and rugs, at least three feet away from heat sources.

  • Keep matches and lighters away and out of reach of children.

  • Preparedness is your best defense against a deadly home fire.

To prepare your family and home, the American Red Cross recommends that you:
  • Create a home fire escape plan that includes at two ways to escape every room in the home.

  • Practice your plan at least twice a year.

  • Select a safe location away from the home were your family can meet after escaping a fire.

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms. Replace batteries at least once a year and test the alarms every month to keep them in good working order. Install smoke alarms install outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home.

  • Purchase and store escape ladders for rooms on the second or third floors.

  • During the month of October, families can attend a Family Fire Safety Clinic at The Home Depot, in partnership with the Red Cross, to learn more about preparing your home for a fire. For more information on the clinics visit www.homedepotclinics.com.

  • Once you’ve escaped your home, stay out.

  • If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out.

  • If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke.

  • If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is warm, use your second way out.

  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a brightly colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department with your location inside the home.

  • The American Red Cross responded to more than 73,000 disasters in communities across the United States last year, and 92 percent of these were fire related.

  • Local Red Cross chapters use donations to provide shelter, food, and other emergency assistance to families affected by fires.