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Statement by the Red Cross on Home Fire Campaign Smoke Alarms

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25% in five years. Home Fires kill an average of seven people every day and every 40 minutes, an injury from a home fire is reported1. In a typical year, deaths and injuries from all natural disasters combined constitute a fraction of the annual casualties from home fires.2

Smoke alarm installation is critical to reducing home fire deaths. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 4% of homes without smoke alarms represent more than one quarter of reported home fires and more than one-third of home fire deaths. NFPA research further indicates that working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half.3 Despite this compelling evidence, the need for smoke alarms remains great. The Vision 20/20 project, a prevention initiative of the Institution of Fire Engineers, U.S. Branch, estimates a need for more than 100 million smoke alarms in U.S. homes today.4

The Red Cross and its coalition partners are committed to installing life-saving smoke alarms in as many homes with need as resources allow. Industry standards recognize there are varying types of smoke alarms that meet U.L. 217 smoke alarm testing criteria, to include both ionization and photoelectric alarms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that both alarm sensing technologies, ionization and photoelectric, are effective smoke sensors.5

All smoke alarms that the Red Cross helps install through the Home Fire Campaign meet the performance requirements of NFPA 72 (2010, 2013) and are listed under Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 217 smoke alarm standards. The Red Cross works with the local fire service to install the type of smoke alarms required in that community.

In summary, the most important thing to know is that smoke alarms save lives and should be in every home.6 We encourage you to learn more about smoke alarms, the benefits of respective smoke alarm technologies, and how to best protect your family from home fires by visiting NFPA’s Smoke Alarm Central.

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1 Ahrens, Marty. NFPA Research: Home Structure Fires, Pg.i. September, 2015. http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/research/nfpa%20reports/occupancies/oshomes.pdf

2 USFA/National Fire Data Center. Fire in the United States 2003-2007, Pg. 29, October, 2009. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/fa_325.pdf

3 Ahrens, Marty. NFPA Research: Smoke Alarms in U.S. Fires, Pg.ii. September, 2015. http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/research/nfpa-reports/fire-protection-systems/ossmokealarms.pdf?la=en

4 100 Million Smoke Alarms Needed in U.S. Homes, According to Industry Study, April 2014 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/100-million-smoke-alarms-needed-in-us-homes-according-to-industry-study-255341341.html

5 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Pub. 559a: Smoke Alarms, Pg. 1. February 2008 https://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/119012/smokealarms.pdf

6 NFPA. What you Should Know About Smoke Alarms, Pg. 1. Undated. http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/safety-information/smoke-alarms/nfpasmokealarmfactsheet.pdf?la=en

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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.