WEST PALM BEACH — On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. The virus has caused a chain of event cancellations, school and beach closures, and additional safety measures put in place to prevent the virus from spreading.
During this evolving situation, the American Red Cross has been closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 and following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Red Cross has taken steps to prepare and train their workforce to continue serving communities impacted by local disasters, while following safety guidelines and protocols directed by the CDC and WHO.
Here in the South Florida Region, the Red Cross has witnessed an increasing number of home fires as more individuals are staying home and working remotely. In the past 12 days, the Red Cross has responded to more than 30 home fires and provided emergency assistance to 130 individuals across the South Florida Region.
“We understand this a difficult time for our community as they take precautionary measures to keep their loved ones safe, but fire safety should be one of those measures that are taken in account, says Joanne Nowlin, CEO for the South Florida Red Cross. “Our Red Cross team members are responding to home fires at an alarming rate and we want to make sure everyone is taking the necessary steps to stay safe.”
Take steps now to prepare: Home fires take seven lives each day in the U.S., most often in homes without working smoke alarms. This may be a stressful time for the community but the Red Cross urges individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones by taking steps to prepare and respond in the event of a home fire.
• Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Purchase smoke alarms here.
• Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
• Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
• Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
• Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire” to alert everyone that they must get out.
• Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
• Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
How you can help: Every 8 minutes, someone affected by disaster is helped by donations to the Red Cross. The generosity of Red Cross donors helps provide people with necessities like shelter, food, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance.
The need is constant, especially during this difficult time. To help the Red Cross continue to deliver its lifesaving mission, visit redcross.org, call 1-800 Red Cross or texting CORONAVIRUS to 90999.