COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - With the increase of house and apartment fires in the Chattahoochee Valley, people may need to think twice about what to do if they come face-to face with a fire.
Experts say many people think they have around five to ten minutes to escape a fire, but in reality, it’s only about two minutes. This is why learning about fire safety is so important.
Having a working fire alarm could be one of the biggest factors in saving your life.
“Having a single working smoke alarm in your house can decrease the risk of injury or death by a fire by 50 percent,” said Adelaide Kirk, executive director for American Red Cross of Southwest Georgia.
This is just one of several safety tips volunteers with the Red Cross teach in their virtual Sound the Alarm campaign.
“In a less than 20-minute conversation, walk through a fire safety checklist. It’s very interactive. Walk through making a safety and fire escape plan with your family. And then checking your smoke alarm, so things like that to make sure you’re as safe as possible,” said Kirk.
Kirk said many people don’t think a fire could erupt in their own house, but it can happen to anyone as house and apartment fires have increased in Georgia this year by 25 percent.
“We believe it has a lot to do with people staying at home more, everything from cooking, which is the leading cause of home fires, cooking in a kitchen being left unattended, doing more things at home,” said Kirk.
Matthew Akins has volunteered at the Red Cross for close to 30 years. He said many victims of home fires are not prepared or they just don’t know what to do when a fire happens.
“They might not have opened that window for 10 years in their bedroom and might not know on the way out, it might be stuck. So, you know, you need to practice,” said Akins.
With the increase of fires in the area, Akins and Kirk said they just want to save as many lives as they can, as they’ve seen the destruction a fire can do to a family firsthand.
“I use the word disaster often at home fires and sometimes people look at me funny and think, ‘that’s not a disaster, a disaster is a tornado or a hurricane.’ But you know if you’re the one standing there watching everything you own burn in a fire and losing your home, it’s a disaster to you personally,” Kirk said.
“We still have a long way to go, and the more lives we save, it’s the better along,” said Akins.
Those who are interested in taking the virtual program can schedule an appointment with American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/GaHomesMadeSafer.