February 10, 2010 10:58:00 AM
Home fires are the country''s greatest disaster threat, but they are also the most preventable, according to Becky Thomas, executive director of the Tenn-Tom chapter of the American Red Cross.
Thomas made these comments Tuesday at a press conference at the North Columbus branch of Citizens National Bank.
"In January alone, there have been 19 fires, all of them in Lowndes County. And our Red Cross chapter has assisted them. It cost our chapter a total of $23,000 to help in their recovery efforts," she said.
Thomas said because of the current economic conditions, the chapter continues seeking donations to help with their disaster relief funds.
Bill West, senior vice president of the Columbus Citizens National Bank branch, announced Tuesday that the bank is working with the Red Cross to get the word out about fire safety.
"We are excited about launching a new campaign to promote the importance of fire safety in the home. We are pleased to work with an organization such as the American Red Cross," he said.
Thomas said being prepared is important to everyone in the community, and knowing what to do and where to turn when a disaster takes place, especially a fire.
She alluded to the numerous fires in January, as well as the fire at the Academy Crossing apartment complex in Starkville which resulted in nine fatalities including six children.
"Simple things such as having a smoke detector on every level of your home, a working fire extinguisher, knowing and practicing an escape route out of your home in case of a fire, and teaching your children what to do and where to go. Those can help immensely," she said.
In another effort for Citizens National Bank to help promote fire safety, North Columbus Branch Manager Charlotte Browning said they are teaming with the East Columbus branch to schedule a fire truck at both locations sometime in March.
"We will have firefighters and a fire truck at both locations for two to four hours at each one. They will pass out information to children and families about fire prevention. We have not pinned down the exact day when this will happen," she said.
Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch
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