Protect your family with free smoke alarms from Red Cross | News | The Press and Standard

by | April 10, 2018 9:15 am

According to a new survey by the American Red Cross, many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe.

Forty percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. Yet, home fires are the most common disaster in this country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year across the country.

Throughout South Carolina this year, already more than 2500 people have been impacted by a home fire.

“Home fires happen without warning and are responsible for killing seven people every day,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer. “Through our nationwide Home Fire Campaign, we are working hard to teach people about home fire safety and install free smoke alarms. Last year, we installed more than 6,600 smoke alarms in the Lowcountry and will keep going to reach as many people as possible.”


According to the survey:

  • More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.
  • Home fire experts say that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.
  • Even though many admit to actions that could contribute to a home fire, only one out of four (27 percent) people think that they are likely to experience a home fire in their lifetime.
  • About 40 percent of people have forgotten to turn off a stove or oven, even though cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries
  • More than one-third (34 percent) of people have used a stove, kerosene lantern or space heater to warm their home. The fact is that heating equipment is involved in one of every five home fire deaths.
  • Some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015).

Americans overwhelmingly believe that smoke alarms can save lives, yet one out of ten (12 percent) people have had to give up buying other essentials for their families to purchase a smoke alarm. This highlights just how critical the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is. Launched in 2014, the Red Cross and campaign partners have already installed more than 1.1 million free smoke alarms and reached 1 million children through preparedness programs. These efforts are already credited with helping to save 381 lives. Learn more.

SOUND THE ALARM This spring, the Lowcountry SC chapter will Sound the Alarm against home fires on May 12 throughout Charleston County, teaching residents about home fire safety and installing free smoke alarms. The event is part of a nationwide effort to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in just 16 days from April 28 to May 13.

Join the Red Cross today by volunteering to install smoke alarms, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives. Sign up to volunteer at

To request a free smoke alarms, visit

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