American Red Cross Reminds Families To Test Smoke Alarms, Practice Fire Escape Drill

LINCOLN – With the winter conditions moving in make sure to test smoke alarms as the cold weather brings increased risks.

According to a release from the American Red Cross – Nebraska/Iowa Region, the Red Cross responds to 27% more home fires in November-March than in warmer weather. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires are most common in cooler months when people spend more time inside. Cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of fires at families’ residences.

Test your smoke alarms and practice your two-minute home fire escape drill (the amount of time that experts say you may have to get out before it’s too late) to protect your family. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. Visit for more information.

Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and 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 because components such as batteries can become less reliable. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.

Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home in your escape plan.

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.

Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. When practicing your plan, include any devices or people that can help you to get out safely.

If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for help. Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, smoke alarm installations are limited to where they’re safe to do so.