October 13, 2006|
Public Relations Director 609.951.2116; (cell) 609.206.4043|
PRINCETON, October 13, 2006 — The American Red Cross urges
families to take the time to prepare for a home fire. According to a
recent poll by the Red Cross, four out of five Americans are unaware
that home fires are the most common disaster in the United States, and
only 26 percent 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.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires
are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room of the home,
and the leading cause of home cooking fires is unattended cooking.
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. In addition, stoves and
ranges should be turned off if the responsible adult leaves the kitchen.
“Ever year in central New Jersey, home fires are the single most common
disaster threat,” said Kevin Sullivan, CEO of the American Red Cross of
Central New Jersey. “In fact, our chapter responded to more than 110
home fires last year throughout Hunterdon, Mercer, and Middlesex
counties, and provided 200 families with immediate emergency
“Preparing for a home fire doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment
or training,” said Mr. Sullivan. “In addition to 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.”
The Red Cross suggests that a fire escape plan include at least two
escape routes for every room in the home, and a convenient meeting place
at a safe distance from the fire. Families are encouraged to pay
particular attention to developing and regularly practicing escape plans
for children and the elderly because of their increased risk of injury
or death from fire. According to the NFPA, children and adults 65 and
older are twice as likely to die in a home fire as the American
population at large.
On average, twice a week the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey
provides fire victims with assistance for food, clothing, prescription
medications, temporary shelter and other special needs an affected
family might have. This relief is made possible by generous donations
from people throughout central New Jersey.
Simple Steps to Prevent Fires
- Keep all sources of fuel (paper, clothing, bedding, and carpets
or rugs) at least three feet away from all heat sources when
cooking, or using alternative heating like a space heater.
- Provide constant adult supervision during cooking or in rooms
with lit candles or fires. Do not leave burning candles unattended.
- Keep matches and lighters away and out of reach of children.
- Teach young children to tell an adult if they see matches and
lighters and not to touch them.
- Teach adolescents to resist peer pressure and not to play with
fire if curious or bored.
Simple Steps to Make Your Home Safer
- Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each
sleeping area and on each additional level of your home. If people
sleep with doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas.
Use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month. When
necessary, replace batteries immediately. Replace all batteries at
least once a year. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time, so
replace your smoke alarm every 10 years.
- Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your
home. Get training from the fire department in proper use of your
- Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your
- Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your
home. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or
third floors. Learn how to use escape ladders and store them near
- Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet
- Practice your escape plan, especially with children and older
adults, at least twice a year and revise as necessary.
Safety Tips During a Home Fire
- Once you are out, stay out! Call the fire department from a
- 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 to your exit. If you are escaping through a closed door, feel
the door before opening it. If the door is warm, use your second way
- 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 and tell them where you are.
Additional information, including facts about the danger of home
fires and fire safety tips, can be found at www.njredcross.org.
American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by
voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can
help too – volunteer your time, make a monetary donation, donate blood,
and/or take a CPR course. For more information on the programs and
services of the American Red Cross and to learn how you can get
involved, contact your local chapter. For Middlesex, Mercer and
Hunterdon counties, visit the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey
web site at www.njredcross.org or call 609/951-8550.
# # #
707 Alexander Road, Suite 101, Princeton,
NJ 08540-6311 . 609-951-8550 . Fax: 609-951-9787
Hunterdon Branch: 349 Route 31 South, Suite 501, Flemington, NJ 08822 .
908-782-4121 . Fax: 908-782-2864