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Red Cross encourages fire safety and preparedness

GREATER SPRINGFIELD Not all disasters lead the evening news or make front-page headlines. Indeed, the vast majority of disasters involving the American Red Cross do not. These home fires or "quiet disasters" are more deadly than all natural disasters combined killing about 4,000 Americans annually. Thousands more people survive such blazes but are injured, homeless or mourning the death of loved ones. Their plight does not unleash the outpouring of contributions typical of disasters covered by the national news media, but that doesn't matter to the Red Cross. People affected by house and apartment fires receive the same free services as those affected by major earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and airline crashes. Depending on their immediate needs, victims receive food, shelter, health assistance, counseling or vouchers they can exchange for essentials such as medications, eyeglasses and clothes to wear to work. The Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter encourages residents to practice the following fires safety and preparedness tips: Children and Home Fires
  • Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of the reach of children, and only use lighters with child-resistant features.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm and what to do when they hear it.
Smoke Detectors
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test every detector at least once a month. See your instruction book for the location of the test button.
  • Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace batteries with new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.
Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop.
  • Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires.
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.
  • If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another location.
Your Exit Plan As with other things, the best motto is, "be prepared."
  • Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.
  • Easy-to-use window escape ladders are available through many catalogs and outlet stores.
  • Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.
  • Stay together away from the fire.
  • Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free of obstructions and combustibles.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Keep far away from combustibles, children and pets.
For more information on fire safety, or to enroll in first aid or CPR classes, please visit www.redcrosscwm.org or call the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley at 737-4306. You can help people affected by disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world. Make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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