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Many Americans “Overconfident and Underprepared” for Home Fires, According to Red Cross

Many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps…

  • May 5, 2018

Many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe, according to a new survey by the American Red Cross.

According to a new survey by the American Red Cross, many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe.

In fact, 40 percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire.

Yet, home fires are the most common disaster people face in this country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year.

Many Americans Have a False Sense of Security

The Red Cross survey found that many Americans have a false sense of security about their family’s ability to escape a home fire.

More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half of those surveyed have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.

Home fire experts say that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.

Some Progress Is Being Made

The survey does show that some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015). But there is still have a long way to go to make sure everyone is prepared for home fires.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that smoke alarms can save lives, yet one out of ten (12 percent) people have had to give up buying other essentials for their families to purchase one.

These findings highlight just how critical the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is in communities across the country.

Launched in 2014 to save lives and help end home fire tragedies, the Red Cross and its partners have already installed more than 1.1 million free smoke alarms and reached 1 million children through preparedness programs. These efforts are already credited with helping to save 381 lives.

Learn more at soundthealarm.org.

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