Sound the Alarm Effort Empowers Thousands to Stay Safe From Home Fires

Every day, seven people die in home fires, most often in homes without working smoke alarms. That’s why the American Red Cross launched our Home Fire Campaign in 2014 to save lives. Sound the Alarm is a critical part of the campaign. Through our home visits, we’ve installed more than 2.1 million free smoke alarms and prepared more than 2.3 million people for home fires across the country.

Due to COVID-19, Sound the Alarm this spring was different from any other year, but that didn’t stop the Central California Preparedness team from leading a movement that educated people on the importance of home fire safety from chapter to chapter. Red Cross volunteers were dedicated to making hundreds of households safer from home fires throughout Central California. Together, they helped families create escape plans, practice their 2-minute drill, and educate their loved ones about the importance of working smoke alarms.

Our Work in Action

This spring, 184 Red Cross volunteers & employees across Central California came together to make 888 homes safer and helped educated more than 3,000 people on how to protect themselves against home fires — which continue to be the nation’s most frequent disaster during COVID-19. Over 60 Red Crossers made at least 5 homes safer through our friends and family program.

Special thank you to our Red Cross Youth Clubs who made an incredible impact through their Sound the Alarm calls to make homes safer throughout Central California! Adolfo Camarillo High School lead the Region (129), with Highland High School (78), Fresno State (70), High School at Moorpark College (54), Simi Valley High School (16), University High School (9), Just Serve (6), CSU Channel Islands (5), and Oxnard High School (2) contributing to the group effort.

“One of the main reasons that I am persistent with making calls is because my best friend’s house burned down in Oklahoma, and it was difficult to see them start over with no help. I want my friends and family to be aware of organizations that can help, such as the Red Cross. Most of the people that I have called resonated with kitchen cooking practices, and I learned that most of my family does not own a fire extinguisher. Thankfully I was able to teach them about home fire safety and share available resources with my loved ones.” – Nancy Gallardo, Kern County & Eastern Sierra Chapter.

How You Can Keep Your Family Safe

Help protect your family against home fires by taking two simple steps: Practice your two-minute escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly. Visit for more information and to pledge to prepare your family against home fires.

  • Create an escape plan with 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.
  • Practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
  • 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 likely need to be replaced. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.

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