According to the state of Tennessee fire records in 2020, there have been 81 fire fatalities across the state. That is the same number as the total fire fatalities from 2019. Numbers are increasing throughout the nation, with 1,797 home fire deaths reported from Jan. 1, 2020 to Nov. 23, 2020. The overall fire fatalities in 2019 numbered 2,131. This has fire officials, and American Red Cross disaster volunteers and staff concerned.
In fiscal year 2020, the Tennessee Region American Red Cross responded to 1,803 home fires across the state. In the first four months of fiscal year 2021, the organization has already responded to 503 home fires. Red Cross officials credit the uptick in more people staying home during the pandemic.
“We want to ensure everyone in our community stays safe from these crises,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive with the Red Cross in Tennessee. “Sadly, home fires will take an average of seven lives every day in the United States. This is an alarming statistic and one which we must counter by becoming even more vigilant in our home fire safety measures.”
“We ask everyone to check their smoke alarms monthly and practice their home fire escape plan at least twice a year,” said Christopher Robins, Regional Disaster Officer for the Tennessee Region. “In fact, fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home.”
Here are other suggestions from the American Red Cross:
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
• If you smoke alarms are not working, change the batteries immediately, or replace them altogether.
• Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
• If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
You can visit redcross.org/homefires for a home fire escape plan and other free resources, and to learn how you can help families in need by volunteering or making a donation to support our lifesaving services. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and save lives.