Audra Graham was cooking dinner for her son and family friends when a dishtowel caught fire.
“It was pitch-black in the house,” Audra said. “You couldn’t breathe, and it was just to the point where we thought the whole house was going to go up. I just thank God for the [smoke] alarms.”
Red Cross volunteers from Fayetteville, North Carolina, installed the smoke alarms five months before the fire occurred in May 2020. The safety visit at Audra’s home was part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by installing free smoke alarms and educating families about fire safety with community partners.
Volunteers visited the home before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the postponement of home visits to help protect everyone’s well-being (free online resources remain available at redcross.org/homefires). But visits made before the coronavirus continue to help people like Audra — who is among more than 796 lives saved through the campaign since it launched in October 2014.
“I’m grateful for the Red Cross,” said Audra, who also received emergency financial assistance and health services support from the Red Cross after the fire. “I’m grateful for just having the equipment and the knowledge because it did help save myself and help save others that were here.”
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Test your smoke alarms and practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information or download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).
Test your smoke alarms monthly.
- 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.
- Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they need to be replaced because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.
- 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.
- Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.
The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is made possible with generous financial donations from national partners: Lowe’s and North Carolina’s statewide presenting Sound the Alarm sponsor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
Visit redcross.org/homefires for information about the campaign and free resources, including an escape plan to practice with your household and guidance for installing smoke alarms.