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Forty percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. The mistaken impression will prove fatal for some and disastrous for many more.

The findings from a new American Red Cross survey also show:

• More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.

• Home fire experts say people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.

• Even though many admit to actions that could contribute to a home fire, only one out of four (27 percent) people think that they are likely to experience a home fire in their lifetime.

• About 40 percent of people have forgotten to turn off a stove or oven, even though cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.

• More than a third (34 percent) of people have used a stove, kerosene lantern or space heater to warm their home. The fact is that heating equipment is involved in one of every five home fire deaths.

• Some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015).

Home fires are the most common disaster in the country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year across the country.

Throughout South Carolina this year, more than 2,500 people have been impacted by a home fire.

The S.C. fire marshal’s office reports that 39 people have died in 32 fatal fires so far in 2018. One of the victims was in Orangeburg County in January.

“Home fires happen without warning and are responsible for killing seven people every day,” Rebecca Jordan, executive director of the Red Cross of Central S.C. chapter. “Through our nationwide Home Fire Campaign, we are working hard to teach people about home fire safety and install free smoke alarms.”

Hardly a day goes by that the Red Cross is not notifying media of efforts to help people and families around the state deal with fires. And the Red Cross always answers the call when there is a hurricane, tornado or other disaster. People expect it.

But remember, the Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit or @RedCrossSC


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