Video: Donated Smoke Alarm Saves Indianapolis Woman from Fire

In early February, a 73-year old woman was sound asleep at 3:00 a.m. when her home in Indianapolis caught fire. Thankfully, a smoke alarm woke Johnnie Mae Pannell and she was able to pull herself into her wheelchair in time to safely exit her home as the flames grew.

“Thought I was a goner,” said Pannell. “I got in my wheelchair and got out of there.”

Pannell received the smoke alarm for her home just a few months back during the 2014 October Fire Prevention Month blitz where the American Red Cross partnered with the Indianapolis Fire Department and State Farm Insurance to canvas neighborhoods and provide senior citizens with smoke alarms. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to disasters such as home fires.

In the aftermath of the fire, the Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis has provided support to Johnnie Mae and her family. Working closely with the Indianapolis Fire Department, they have also installed new smoke alarms in her daughter’s home.

Home Fire Campaign

To help combat the threat of home fires, the Red Cross announced a national campaign this past October to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. The Red Cross has already prepared more than 23,000 households and installed nearly 40,000 smoke alarms.

Give What Fire Takes

To support home fire survivors like Pannell, the Red Cross also launched a new social media campaign in February called #GiveWhatFireTakes, in conjunction with the Home Fire Campaign.

Visit our Crowdrise campaign page, make a direct donation on and share what moved you to join the campaign on social media with #GiveWhatFireTakes.

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.