You can never know when a disaster will occur, whether it’s an instant fire in your kitchen or a devastating tornado. With the help of the American Red Cross, though, we can control how we react to these situations by getting ready now with easy steps.

On fire

At-home practice: Go over fire drills at home. Draw up an escape plan that includes at least two ways to escape from every room. Select a meeting spot a safe distance from the home where family members can meet. Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year.

Monthly check-in: Second, check smoke alarms monthly. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms. Test smoke alarms once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it. 

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat we face, killing as many as seven people and injuring another 36 in the United States every day. The Red Cross is working to lower these tragic statistics. Between September 23 and October 15 this year, The Red Cross will Sound the Alarm, installing 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 high-risk communities across the country.

On natural disasters

Build a kit: An emergency kit should contain water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents.

Make a plan: Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Remember family members with special medical needs and plan how you will care for your pets.

Be informed. Learn about how your community responds to disasters and plan routes to local shelters.