Fire Prevention Week: Test smoke alarms now before cold weather brings increased threat of home fires

This Fire Prevention Week — October 3-9 —  the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross urges you to test your smoke alarms before cold weather sets in and the threat of home fires increase.

Home fires are most common in cooler months when people spend more time inside and cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of these crises. While warm weather may be waning in northern Nevada, the cool fall and winter months can also be deadly for homes without a working smoke alarm.

“We see home fires throughout the fall and winter for a variety of reasons, whether it be faulty furnaces, cooking and issues with holiday lighting,” said Mary Powell, executive director of the Red Cross, Northern Nevada Chapter. “Installation of a smoke alarm is a small investment that pays big when it comes to protecting your family and home.”

The Red Cross responds to 27 percent more home fires in November through March than in warmer months.

Red Cross disaster volunteers continue to respond to home fires —installing a smoke alarm is a big step towards a reduction in injuries, death and destruction of property.

“Help keep your family safe now by testing your smoke alarms and practicing your 2-minute fire escape drill,” said Powell.

How to protect your family

  • During Fire Prevention Week, test your smoke alarms and practice your 2-minute home fire escape drill — the amount of time that experts say you may have to get out before it’s too late. 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 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.

  • Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has helped make communities safer by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing smoke alarms in high-risk areas. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit

About the Northern Nevada Chapter

     The American Red Cross of Northern Nevada serves 13 counties and over 87,000 square miles. Our volunteers respond to disasters both locally and nationally in addition to providing training in CPR and community preparedness. The chapter has served northern Nevada for more than 100 years. Follow us on social media FB | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram.

     To learn more about the American Red Cross, please visit or