The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has now helped save at least 820 lives by preparing people to act quickly when these disasters strike.
Most of us don’t realize we have just two minutes to escape a home fire before it’s too late. That’s why the Red Cross launched the campaign in 2014 to prevent deaths and injuries from home fires, which claim more lives in a typical year than all natural disasters combined.
CAMPAIGN STILL HELPING DURING COVID-19
Home fire haven’t stopped during COVID-19 — just in the past month, Red Cross volunteers have provided emergency assistance to families affected by more than 4,200 home fires across the country.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, campaign volunteers worked with community partners to help families create escape plans for practicing their two-minute drill and to install free smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods. To help protect everyone’s safety during COVID-19, we postponed our smoke alarm installation events — though alarms installed before the pandemic continue to save people’s lives.
They include Gail Renfro, of Olmsted Township, Ohio, where campaign volunteers installed free smoke alarms in her home in 2016. Some four years later this past October, Renfro was sitting in her living room when one of those smoke alarms alerted her to safely escape a fire in the bathroom.
Now staying with family, Renfro reunited by video call with the Red Cross and fire department members who first helped her in 2016 through the campaign. “Thank you very much,” Renfro shared. “Thank you for installing the alarms.”
Although installation events are postponed, people can continue to access free home fire safety information and preparedness resources at redcross.org/fire and on the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in mobile app stores). In addition, the campaign’s youth preparedness resources are available at redcross.org/YouthPrep, including a Become a Preparedness Champion activity for kids to learn fire safety and other skills.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE
- Test your smoke alarms each month and practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.
- In your escape plan, include at least two ways to exit every room in your home. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
- While practicing your escape plan, teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.
- Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
- Also check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including a home fire escape plan to create and practice with your household.