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Fire Prevention Week October 9-15

Red Cross: Make Sure You Have Smoke Alarms in Your Home

As the country marks National Fire Prevention Week October 9-15, the American Red Cross on Long Island, is urging everyone to help save lives by making sure their home is protected by smoke alarms.

“The largest percentage of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms that don’t work,” said John Miller, chief executive officer, Long Island Red Cross. “Smoke alarms provide a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives.”

People who do not have smoke alarms in their home should have them installed, and those with smoke alarms should make sure they have been properly maintained and updated.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, as well as inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas of the home. People should test their smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button, and replace alarm batteries at least once a year. Other smoke alarm safety recommendations include:

• Installing a new smoke alarm battery immediately if an alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low.

• Teaching children what the smoke alarm sounds like, and what they should do when they hear it.

• Keeping the alarm clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with the alarm’s operation. Do not paint over the smoke alarm.

• Moving the alarm farther away from the kitchen or bathroom if the device is sounding nuisance alarms. Never disable a smoke alarm.

The Red Cross also recommends that families create and practice a home fire escape plan, which should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. Families should choose a convenient meeting place outside of the home and practice their escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to thousands of local fires throughout the country every year. Last year, the Long Island Red Cross responded to 118 local fires, providing food, shelter and emotional support to over 800 local residents.

More information on home fire safety is available online. People can help those affected by home fires and other emergencies by making a financial donation to the American Red Cross on Long Island at 195 Willis Avenue, Mineola, NY 11501, calling (516) 747-3500, or online at www.nyredcross.org.