By Breanna James, Devan Nieto and contributing author Phil Beckman, American Red Cross volunteers

What starts with a spark and quickly turns into an uncontrollable beast? Fire. Fires have the power to blaze through just about anything that crosses their paths. With zero mercy, fires ravage through fields or buildings leaving very little in their wake.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 3,000 people die in U.S. home fires each year. Approximately three of every five home fire deaths resulted in homes with no smoke alarms (38 percent) or no working smoke alarms (21 percent).

American Red Cross North Texas volunteers, in partnership with local fire departments and offices of emergency managemet, install free smoke alarms in Across the DFW Metroplex as part of a campaign to reduce the number of house fires in the area by 25 percent before 2018. At one event in Arlington, the Arlington Fire Department identified families that would benefit most from a home visit. During their outreach, Red Cross volunteers served as smoke alarm installers and fire safety educators as they went door-to-door asking residents if they had working smoke alarms and how long it had been since the batteries were changed in those they have.

What began in 2014 as a mission to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 25 percent by 2020, has come a long way. The American Red Cross's Home Fire Campaign has already:

  • Saved 159 lives
  • Installed 702,060 smoke alarms
  • Reached and educated 707,862 youths
  • Made 294,269 households safer
  • The key to helping all starts at home.

    1.) First, ensure that your own home is prepared in the case of a home fire. Educate your family on fire safety and make sure the entire family understands what steps should be taken in a home fire. To home fire preparedness, click here.

    2.) Learn About Fire Safety in the Classroom. Schools play a huge part in student's lives. The American Red Cross offers many resources and programs, such as the Pillowcase Project, to aid in preparing your school, staff and students for disasters and emergencies. For more information, check out the Red Cross's Resources for Schools here.

    3.) Volunteer to Help. The Red Cross of North Texas is always grateful to utilize your set of skills in our efforts. Whether it's installing smoke alarms, educating your community about fire safety or helping others after a fire, our belief is "the more hands, the merrier." Contact your local Red Cross to find out where and how you can lend a hand.

    4.) Make a Donation. Donations are what allow the Red Cross to respond and help families in need. Click here for more information on how you can donate today.

    5.) Spread the Word. In this world filled with constant communication, word-of-mouth is vital to decreasing the negative impacts of home fires. Urge your loved ones to take two simple steps to reduce the risk from home fire: checking/installing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home. It might just save their lives!

    These little steps can truly make a BIG difference!