CHARLESTON — With the arrival of National Fire Prevention Week, the American Red Cross is urging Americans to test their smoke alarms and practice their fire escape plan for their home.

West Virginia has the highest number of fire fatalities per capita in the nation, according to the Red Cross, and that risk increases with the coming of cold weather.

“Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time to check existing alarms and make a escape plan to get out of your home in less than 2 minutes,” said Erica Mani, chief executive officer for the West Virginia Region of the American Red Cross, in a release.

When planning a home escape plan, Red Cross advises including at least two ways to get out of each room, picking a meeting spot safely outside the home, and to practice to execute the plan in two minutes or less.

Smoke alarms are advised to be installed on every level of the home, inside and outside bedrooms and in sleeping areas. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and the batteries checked at least once a year or as necessary.

On average, seven people die each day in the United States due to a house fire, most often in homes without working alarms, according to the Red Cross.

For more information and free resources, visit

To learn how to request a free smoke alarm installation, volunteer to help or give a donation, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit

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