Two Minutes May Be All You Have to Escape a Home Fire — The Nation’s Most Frequent Disaster

Kansas— This Fire Prevention season, the American Red Cross of Kansas and Oklahoma urges everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape plan and test their smoke alarms to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent disaster.

Two minutes is the amount of time that fire experts say you may have to safely escape a home fire before it’s too late. These crises account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S., and home fire responses in Kansas and Oklahoma are nearly 50% higher during cold months than warmer times of year.

“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Month in October — and particularly Fire Prevention Week Oct. 9–15 — serve as important reminders to prepare now,” said Matt Rose, Regional Disaster Officer. “Practice your two-minute home fire escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly to help keep your family safe.”

HOW TO PRACTICE YOUR TWO-MINUTE DRILL Practice your plan with everyone in your household; also teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do in an emergency. Visit for more information, including a printable escape plan and safety tips for cooking and home heating — the leading causes of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which is sponsoring Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.”

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you or a loved one is deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. Visit for more information, including resources in American Sign Language.

IF YOU NEED HELP 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.

FIRES CAN QUICKLY TURN TRAGIC A home fire in Tulsa just this week illustrates how important it is to know your escape plan and be able to get out of your home quickly. Early Monday morning, firefighters found a 46-year-old woman dead on her front porch. A friend reportedly pulled her out of the burning house. The Red Cross accompanied Tulsa firefighters on a canvassing effort the next day to check smoke alarms and install them for residents who didn’t have any.

“It’s the most important piece of equipment that you can put in your house,” Capt. Justin Flake told the Tulsa World.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVE LIVES Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved almost 1,400 lives — including 25 in the Kansas-Oklahoma Region — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. Locally in Kansas and Oklahoma, Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed more than 44,000 alarms and helped make 22,000 households safer. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners: American Fidelity, Phillips 66, BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas, RiverSpirit Casino Resort and Sherwood Companies.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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