Red Cross Preparedness Campaign 2014-2015: Home Fires

Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. Every 40 minutes, an injury from a fire is reported.  Nearly 1,000 times every day, fire departments are called to home fires. According to a new survey conducted for the Red Cross, most Americans (62 percent) think they have at least five minutes to escape a burning home, when actually they have as little as two minutes. Also most parents (69 percent) believe their children would know what to do if a fire occurred, even though less than half of them (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety. Damage from US home fires is bigger than the entire annual sales of many Fortune 500 companies. For the past 20 years, these numbers have been relatively stagnant.

By mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors, the American Red Cross and our coalition partners will attack that stagnation. In an unprecedented, nationwide effort to combine new technology and innovation with old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach, we will save lives, reduce injuries, and cut down on needless losses.

Our goal is to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the United States by 25% within five years.

There are three cornerstones to the strategy:

  1. Door-to-door installation of smoke alarms and completion of home-safety checklists and plans in vulnerable neighborhoods,
  2. Engagement of youth in classrooms and after school ·with technology, challenges, and science-based education,
  3. A marketing and public relations campaign to motivate ordinary people to take action to save themselves, their families and their neighbors by checking smoke alarms and practicing evacuating when the alarm goes off.

The Red Cross and our partners will do this by establishing local coalitions in communities all across America, including local fire departments, houses of worship, businesses, schools, after­ school groups, public health departments, social service agencies, neighborhood leaders and others. These coalitions will support all elements of the strategy. One cornerstone of the campaign is going door to door where it counts the most. Data shows that the 4% of homes without smoke alarms represent nearly 40% of the home fires, and that working smoke alarms can double someone’s chance of surviving a fire. By combining data from 5 years of responses to home fires by Red Cross, volunteers with demographic risk factors like poverty, maps will highlight the neighborhoods at greatest risk.

When invited, they will complete a checklist and plan, with the family, and they will install smoke alarms in the residence. We will also install smoke alarms as needed for our clients who move into new homes after a disaster, and engage our partners who provide services in homes to install alarms as well.

The goal each year is to install 500,000 smoke alarms. We will also replace dead batteries when the smoke detector meets criteria but has non-functioning batteries; data indicates that about half of installed smoke alarms are not functioning, usually due to dead or removed batteries.

About the Preparedness Campaign

The 2014 Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is the kick-off of a multi-year, two-prong preparedness strategy for the American Red Cross. The goals of the strategy are to save lives that are lost to preventable causes like fires, disasters, choking, and cardiac arrest and to improve the resilience of the social safety net in the face of disasters.

If you would like to partner with the Central MN Red Cross Smoke Detector Campaign contact
Lead Preparedness Coordinator: Katie Ward
Phone: 320-224-0070 email: or
Deputy Preparedness Coordinator Amanda Johnson
Phone: 320-237-8836