RIEMA, Red Cross team up to prevent home fires

A home on Summit St. in Pawtucket was heavily damaged in a morning fire that left one person dead and a firefighter injured on February 24, 2020. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency and the state chapter of the American Red Cross are teaming up to prevent home fires, which they say have increased 40% compared to this time last year.

The Sound the Alarm Prepare-a-thon is a volunteer effort to educate communities about how people can better prepare themselves and their loves ones, the organizations said in a statement.

“Home fires have become more frequent during COVID-19 because more families are staying home,” said Marc Pappas, Director, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. “In a home fire, you only have two minutes to escape. The best way to survive a home fire is to prevent it in the first place.”

Residents can help by taking three steps: Practice a two-minute escape drill, test smoke alarms monthly, and volunteer to educate others in the community.

Volunteers for Prepare-a-thon will get training and materials, available in English and Spanish.

Volunteers can deliver the 10-minute home fire education to people they know over the phone or via video conference at their convenience throughout the month. There will be prizes for top volunteers, those who educate the most people. Prepare-a-thon ends May 8.