Annual Sound the Alarm campaign is happening in a new way due to COVID-19 - MetroFamily Magazine
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Annual Sound the Alarm campaign is happening in a new way due to COVID-19

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Home fires claim seven lives every day in the U.S. and since January 2021, there has been 40% increase in home fires compared to this time last year. The American Red Cross bringing back their national Sound the Alarm campaign which was suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic in a new, modified way.
In the past, volunteers entered homes to help check, test and install smoke detectors, as well as help residents review their fire safety escape plans. This year client interactions will be by appointment only and volunteers will deliver safety education virtually or in-person, masked and in a socially-distanced manner outside of the home, typically from the doorstep.
“This year we have adapted our outreach plans in line with public health guidance and we are working with our community partners who will help install alarms by appointment only, where it is safe to do so,” said Mary Jane Coffman, American Red Cross disaster program manager. “We have seen the increase in fires this year and it is just such a devastating experience for those we help when it happens. And because of COVID, we have adapted the program to continue to have those conversations with residents to help them prevent and be as prepared as possible in the event a house fire does happen.”
In a home fire, family members often have two minutes or less to escape. Families can be proactive and better prepared by developing an emergency plan which includes escape routes from each room in the home and an agreed to meeting spot where family members go after leaving the house.
“It is critical to already have a plan built into your muscle-memory so that you and your family know what you are going to do. The more you’ve got a home fire emergency plan in place, the more you can deal with the unexpected when it happens,” Coffman said.
Community fire partners like that of the Oklahoma City Fire Department echo the importance of preparedness and education in the community.
“Working smoke alarms are a crucial part of a home fire safety plan. The early notification provided by smoke alarms gives unaware occupants the greatest chance of survival. The early notification also means an earlier call to 911 which could result in more property being saved once the fire department arrives. Every home should have working smoke alarms,” said Benny Fulkerson, battalion chief and public information officer for the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Anyone interested in having a Red Cross volunteer visit their home for a socially-distanced discussion or visiting with a volunteer virtually can call the American Red Cross at 1-833-498-2092 or visit to book an appointment. Fire prevention and safety tips can be found at or by downloading our FREE emergency app to have fire and disaster preparedness at your fingertips. The Sound the Alarm campaign continues until May 8.
Home Fire Safety and Prevention Tips
Learn how to effectively protect your loved ones and home from fires with these top tips provided by the American Red Cross. Download our fire safety resources here.
Home Fire Safety for Kids
Learn how to take sensible precautions in the home and teach your children how to escape fires with safety tips from the American Red Cross. Visit here for more information.
Home Fire Safety for Pets
According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires. Learn how to protect your pets today here.
Download Red Cross APPSDownload the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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