For National Fire Prevention Week, Red Cross offers tips to survive blazes

October 6, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6, 2010

American Red Cross leaders urged King County residents to take steps to prevent residential fires during National Fire Prevention Week.

The annual observance runs through Saturday.

“The American Red Cross has already responded to over 200 fires in Western Washington since the start of the year assisting over 1,000 people,” David Shannon, a community disaster educator, said in a news release. “It is important to include children in your disaster planning. In the last year, over 30 percent of Red Cross fire clients were under the age of 18.”

The nonprofit Red Cross offers tips to prevent and survive residential fires.

For fire escape plans, residents should take the following steps:

  • Family plans should include two ways to escape from every room in the home.
  • Practice the escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if the alarm chirps, meaning the battery is low.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Select a safe location away from the home where the entire family can meet after escaping.
  • Consider purchasing and storing escape ladders for rooms above ground level and practice using them.
  • If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use the alternate way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke.
  • Before escaping through a closed door, feel the door with the back of your hand before opening it. If the door is warm, use the alternate escape route.

If smoke, heat or flames block both exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Place a rolled towel underneath the door. Signal for help by waving a brightly colored cloth, or by shining a flashlight at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call 911 to report your exact location inside the residence. After escaping from a burning building, stay out.

Find more preparedness information here.

“Preventing a home fire doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or training, and Fire Prevention Week is a great time to get started,” Shannon said. “In addition to having working smoke alarms, one of the easiest ways you can prepare is to develop and practice a home fire escape plan so that every family member can escape quickly and safely.”

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