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Red Cross Kicks Off New Campaign to Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries

Fire Safety
There are simple steps every household can take right now to prevent home fires and save lives.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE… (Burlington, VT –October 9, 2014)  The American Red Cross announced today a new campaign in our region and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years.


The Red Cross campaign focuses on increasing the use of smoke alarms and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.


“Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire and we have witnessed that tragedy right here our community,” said Larry Crist, Regional Executive for the Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross.  “There are simple steps every household can take right now to prevent home fires and save lives.”

Across our region, this initiative is taking several forms, each focused on getting important information into the hands of area residents, with a goal of more than 27,000 households being contacted during Fire Prevention Week, which concludes Saturday.  To reach that many homes, the Red Cross is focusing its efforts on critical partnerships and undertaking some old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing.

The key partnerships forged by the Red Cross in this undertaking include the Vermont Foodbank, the VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties and 10 community libraries across Vermont.


  • Through the network of more than 100 foodshelves that they supply, as well as their youth BackPack program and CSFP nutrition program geared toward helping older Vermonters, the Vermont Foodbank anticipates distribution of close to 20,000 fire prevention/safety information cards specially prepared by the Red Cross for this campaign.

  • The VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties will be sharing the same information as they make between 400-500 home visits during the month of October.

  • 10 community libraries will distribute a total of 2,500 bookmarks focused exclusively on the importance of working smoke alarms.

Capping off Fire Prevention Week will be a door-to-door canvassing effort focused on five communities hard hit by house and apartment fires over the past week.  A cadre of volunteers in Winooski, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Barre and Rutland will fan out Saturday morning, knocking on doors and leaving door hangers containing critically important information to help prevent fires and how to respond safely should fire strike.


Simple Steps to Save Lives


The Red Cross is focusing on two simple steps that people can take that can save lives: check existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

There are several other things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:


  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?



New Poll Shows Many People Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety  


The Red Cross fire prevention campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home.  


Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they have ten minutes or more. 


When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in 10 of those polled (42 percent) believed they could get out in two minutes.  


While 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence.  


  • Less than one in five of families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills. 

  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.

  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Across Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley, the Red Cross responded to close to 200 home fires last year. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  


The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130  adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.


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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.