Resources and tools are available to help families plan for disasters


Great Falls, MT, September 16, 2015 — September is National Preparedness Month and the Red Cross is here to make preparing for emergencies simple. The American Red Cross of Montana advises families and individuals to take time this month to make a plan, practice your plan, and be ready to help your family and neighbors.

“Preparedness is an ‘all of us’ activity, not just something for emergency preparedness professionals. There are simple things families can do now to prevent emergencies and make their lives better in the aftermath of a disaster,” said Russ Paulsen, Executive Director, Community Preparedness and Resilience Services. “Being prepared for emergencies is not just a month-long process but a continual one.”

Home fires are one of the most common emergencies families across the country face every day. In fact, the Red Cross responds to a home fire in the US every 8 minutes. But unlike other disasters, home fires can often be prevented. Home fires can happen quickly, and experts estimate that families may only have two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.

To stay safe, check existing smoke alarms and make sure to install one on every floor, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Practice fire drills at home several times a year to reduce evacuation time to less than two minutes and pick a place to meet outside. Fire escape plans should include two ways to get out of every room; consider escape ladders for bedrooms and homes on the second floor or above. For more information on how to prepare for disasters, please visit

“The American Red Cross of Montana is working to provide individuals and families in our state with the information and resources they need to stay safe from home fires and the devastation they can cause,” said Diane Wright, executive director of Montana Red Cross. “Having a working smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in a fire in half, so we’re partnering with local fire departments and other organizations around the state to visit homes in areas at high risk for home fires to install smoke alarms and educate people about fire safety.”

The Red Cross has several smoke alarm installation events planned this fall, including:

  • Saturday, October 3 in Billings and Roundup
  • Saturday, October 10 in Kalispell
  • Friday, October 23 in Great Falls
  • Saturday, October 24 in Columbia Falls.

Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of $370 million helping people and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from nearly 70,000 disasters across the country and around the world. Help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, please go to or call 1-800-272-6668. Contributions may also be sent to American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405.