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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The American Red Cross is encouraging families to participate in National Fire Prevention Week, through education, and smart phone apps as well.

The American Red Cross reports that just last year they responded to about 63,000 home fires in the U.S., providing assistance through comfort and basic necessities to over 82,000 families.

Scott R. Salemme, the regional CEO of the American Red Cross for the Columbia Region, said "We respond to a disaster every eight hours across the Columbia Region, so the best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to install a smoke alarm and develop and practice a fire escape plan. Fires can spread very quickly, so everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm."

Recommendations include:

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 that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.

Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips.

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