The American Red Cross urges residents to be ready for emergencies like home fires by creating a disaster plan for their household during National Preparedness Month in September. The Red Cross offers a free Emergency app that combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe, including information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and other disasters.
Another free Red Cross app helps children between the ages of 7 and 11 learn emergency preparedness while playing a game as different monster characters. The app, sponsored by Disney, “Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies,” teaches how to prevent emergencies, such as home fires, and what to do if severe weather or natural disasters occur. The app uses Disney characters to help teach children to be ready for an emergency instead of being afraid.
“Our preparedness apps make it easier than ever for families to be prepared for disasters and other emergencies. The apps include tips that can be used by families to prepare for the specific hazards that affect their community,’’ said Beth Boyd, American Red Cross regional disaster officer for Arizona-New Mexico-El Paso Region.
The most common disaster threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. Nationally, there are about 63,000 home fires each year — about one fire every eight minutes.
To help reduce fire deaths and injuries, Red Cross Arizona-New Mexco-El Paso Region chapter volunteers and staff are implementing two national programs — the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and the Pillowcase Project — to their communities.
Through the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, teams of volunteers canvass designated neighborhoods to install smoke alarms, educate families about fire prevention and map fire escape routes. Training is provided at each event, so all that is required is a commitment of time and a willingness to help.
In addition, Disney is partnering with the Red Cross to keep children safe through the Pillowcase Project. Red Cross volunteers and staff teach third through fifth graders about being ready for emergencies using pillowcases. Students learn to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during an emergency. The program emphasizes the importance of developing an emergency communications plan, fire evacuation plan and emergency contact cards. Students are encouraged to share their new knowledge with family and friends.
To help families prepare for emergencies, the Red Cross provides these tips:
Emergency Plan: The plan should include ways to contact one another and two places to meet — one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood. Identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Decide where to go if ordered to evacuate and what route to take to get there including alternate routes in case roads are closed. Make sure to include family pets in your plan such as pet-friendlyhotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
Fire Escape Plan: Walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year with their pets.
People should also install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. They should test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace the alarms every 10 years.
When an emergency strikes, be prepared at work, home or on the road with the Basic Emergency Preparedness Kit from the American Red Cross. It is available at the Red Cross online store.
For more information about the Red Cross, go to RedCross.org or call 602-336-6660.
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