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Home Fire Campaign Year-One Successes Just a Start

Home Fire Campaign Poll
The five-year campaign aims to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by 25 percent...

A multi-year nationwide home fire safety campaign spearheaded by the American Red Cross, and engaging more than 40 national and 1,900 local partners, has succeeded in reaching more than 63,000 homes with fire safety information, installing 125,000 smoke alarms and saving 26 lives during its first year.

The five-year campaign aims to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by 25 percent and is off to a good start, but there’s more work to do – as a recent Red Cross poll revealed. According to the survey results, 65 percent of respondents believe they have at least 5 minutes to escape their home during a fire. In reality, it is estimated that most people have only two minutes to get out once a fire starts.

Two Minutes, Two Steps

This false sense of security is dangerous and is one reason the Red Cross is working to educate the public, sometimes one household at a time, about this narrow two-minute window. The good news is that smoke alarms make a difference.

“We know smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a fire in half,” said Russ Paulsen, executive director, Community Preparedness Programs for the Red Cross. “That’s why we’re working with fire departments and community groups across the country to install smoke alarms and teach people about home fire safety.”

To provide the information in an easy and memorable way, the Red Cross has paired their two-minute warning with two simple safety steps:

1. Have working smoke alarms, which means:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas, and
  • Test new and existing alarms every month, changing batteries (if necessary).
  • 2. Practice fire escape drills; this includes:

  • Making a fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room and designating a place to meet outside to ensure everyone has gotten out safely, and
  • Having fire drills to practice getting everyone out in two minutes (or less).
  • Success, One Household at a Time

    Red Cross national and local partners and volunteers are a critical to the campaign’s success. Going door-to-door in communities from coast-to-coast, they have:

  • Reached more than 485,000 people with safety information,
  • Visited more than 63,000 homes 50 states and 3 territories,
  • Installed more than 125,000 smoke alarms in nearly 2,400 cities and towns, and
  • Saved at least 27 lives.
  • Other Red Cross partners support the campaign by raising awareness. For example, MasterCard has donated $350,000 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief and is using its communications channels to help educate its employees and cardholders on how to prevent, prepare for and respond to a home fire. This month, MasterCard is also challenging the public to donate an additional $350,000 for a combined total of $700,000 for the Red Cross Disaster Relief to help support families affected by home fires and other disasters. More than 90 percent of the nearly 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to each year are home fires.

    What Individuals Can Do

    The best way to fight fire isn’t with fire but by being educated, vigilant and making fire safety a priority. To learn more about fire safety, visit To find local smoke alarm installation events or to become a volunteer, contact your local Red Cross. Join the campaign by sharing this information with friends, family and neighbors!

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.