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Red Cross volunteers to take fire safety message to Sacramento, Chico neighborhoods

American Red Cross volunteers will observe Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service by visiting neighborhoods in south Sacramento and Chico to improve fire safety.

Community canvass events are part of a national Red Cross campaign aimed at reducing deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, according to a Red Cross news release. The effort seeks to increase use of smoke alarms in neighborhoods with higher frequencies of home fires, and to encourage everyone to develop and practice fire escape plans.

“Smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a fire in half, which is why it is critical for all households to have them and test them regularly,” Kathleen Weis, chief executive officer for the Red Cross Gold Country Region, said in a written statement. “We have seen an increase in home fires throughout the region, on average responding to one every 11 hours, so it is critical that residents take action to reduce their risk and improve their safety in the event of a home fire. Simply testing your smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home can save lives.”

From 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, volunteers will visit Sacramento’s Parkway-South neighborhood, talking with residents and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at homes in need. In Chico, volunteers will canvass areas from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Red Cross officials say increased fire safety awareness is needed, citing a new national survey that shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted by the Red Cross, shows that people think they have more time than they do to escape a burning home. While fire experts say people may have no more than two minutes to escape, the survey indicated 62 percent of Americans mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes and nearly 18 percent believe they have 10 minutes or more.

The survey showed nearly seven in 10 parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape a burning home with little help, but few actions had been taken to support that level of confidence, Red Cross officials said. Less than one in five families with children age 3 to 17 had practiced home fire drills, and less than half of the parents had talked to their families about fire safety. Only one third of families with children had identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

Officials said families can take several steps to improve fire safety:

▪ If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

▪ If someone does have alarms, test them. If they don’t work, replace them

▪ Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.

▪ Practice the plan and determine the household’s escape time.

For more information about home fire safety, see the Red Cross website.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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