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Fire is best when it's kept in its place.
This is Fire Prevention Week. The American Red Cross and local fire departments are encouraging members of the public to protect themselves from fires in their homes, at their businesses and other properties.
The Red Cross assisted in the aftermath of 63,000 home fires in the United States during 2011, including 199 in Alaska, and helped more than 82,000 families. That means the Red Cross came to the rescue of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by fire once every nine minutes.
But all fires aren't in the home. Businesses experience them, too. Fire is the most common of all business disasters and amounted to about $2.4 billion in 2010 losses.
And, of course, fires often occur when people are out of town, making the situation only worse. To avoid receiving a "your house burned down" message while on vacation, the Red Cross offers some tips:
• Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
• Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year; test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
• Ensure all occupants know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside in case of fire. Practice the plan twice a year.
• Follow the escape plan in case of a fire. Get out, stay out and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Additional information for dealing with fires and other emergencies is available on the Red Cross website at: www.redcross.org/homefires.
Being prepared will help prevent fire disasters.