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Home Fire Preparedness: Two Minutes to Save Lives

PHOTO: Fire evacuation drills should be held in every home, according to a new safety campaign from the American Red Cross. Image courtesy of the American Red Cross.
PHOTO: Fire evacuation drills should be held in every home, according to a new safety campaign from the American Red Cross. Image courtesy of the American Red Cross.
October 17, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Most people in Arkansas know that smoke-detector installation and testing is important, according to a new survey, but most are likely mistaken about how much time is needed to safely evacuate a burning home. Research from the American Red Cross shows folks think they have five minutes, but it's really only two minutes. A new Red Cross "Home Fire Preparedness Campaign" kicked off this month to set the record straight.

Anne Marie Borrego, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, says home fire drills may be the only way to beat the clock and save lives.

"If there's one thing you can do today, it's go home and really practice that escape plan," says Borrego. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is to sit down and talk with your family and actually see how long it's going to take to get out of your home."

According to the survey, nearly seven in 10 parents believed their children knew what to do if their house caught on fire, but fewer than one in five families with children have practiced home fire drills.

Borrego has advice about how to conduct a fire-safety conversation with children.

"My advice would be to do it in a very matter-of-fact manner," she says. "It's important to talk with them about the need to prepare, just in case, and to reassure them mom and dad are doing this just so everyone stays safe."

It's recommended smoke detectors be installed in each bedroom and regularly tested. Nationally, about 2,300 people die in house fires each year and 13,000 are injured.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR