A new American Red Cross survey shows roughly two in five people think it’s more likely they’ll win the lottery than lose their home in a fire.

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The real odds are the opposite: The chance is greater of dying from exposure to fire or smoke (nearly one in 1,500) compared to winning the lottery (typically one in millions).

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“Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster, tragically taking seven lives each day and injuring many more,” said Rebecca Jordan, executive director of th Red Cross of Central South Carolina. “Sadly, home fires can happen to any family and can be caused by everyday activities like making a home-cooked meal.”

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The Red Cross prioritizes installation of smoke alarms as part of its work. And with good reason.

A new report from the National Fire Protection Association confirms the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home. According to the NFPA report, almost three of five home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

“We can’t underscore enough how critical it is to have properly installed and operating smoke alarms. The early warning from a smoke alarm provides precious time to get out and can be the difference between life and death,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy.

The report further stated the risk of dying in reported home structure fires is 54 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or none that worked.

NFPA provides several smoke alarm safety tips:

• A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.

• Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.

• Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.

• Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working. Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multisensing, which could include smoke and carbon monoxide combined.

• Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.

• People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.

• Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

• When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.

• Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

NFPA’s Carli rightly stresses that smoke alarms are more important than ever. “Modern construction and furnishings in homes burn faster and hotter, making seconds count.”

You could have as little as two minutes to escape.

For more information about the proper installation of smoke alarms and other safety tips, visit www.nfpa.org/smokealarms.

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