The American Red Cross urges everyone to test their smoke alarms when turning back their clocks as daylight saving time ends Sunday.

As the fall season ushers in cold weather, the risk of deadly home fires rises. That’s because heating equipment is the second most common cause of fatalities from home fires, which on average kills seven people every day in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Working smoke alarms can double a person’s odds of survival.

“The Red Cross wants everyone to stay safe this winter,” said Patricia Murtagh, CEO of the Maine Region of the American Red Cross. “This weekend, please take time to ‘turn and test’ to protect yourself and your family against the season’s life-threatening risk of home fires.” Learn more in this video.

Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds a disaster and the vast majority are home fires. In Maine, the Red Cross responds to about 300 home fires each year.

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. This weekend, the Red Cross asks everyone to take these simple steps:

  • Check smoke alarm batteries. When turning the clocks back, take a few minutes to replace the smoke alarm batteries if needed and push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install smoke alarms. If you don’t have working smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows two ways to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.


Through the national Home Fire Campaign, the American Red Cross works with community partners to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires, which take more lives each year than all other natural disasters combined. In Maine and across the country, Red Cross volunteers and partners go door-to-door year-round to install free smoke alarms and help residents create home fire escape plans.

In Maine, the Red Cross has installed more than 12,000 free smoke alarms since the campaign launched in late 2014.The lives of at least 8 Mainers have been saved because of these efforts.

Visit to learn more about home fire safety and to sign up for free smoke alarm installation.

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