In Maine, Red Cross volunteers have helped nearly 800 people after home fires last year

BANGOR — As people turn their clocks forward for daylight saving time this Sunday, the American Red Cross of Northern New England encourages everyone to also test their smoke alarms.

In 2020, local Red Cross volunteers helped 793 people with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning, following 195 home fires across the state.

“Home fires remain the nation’s most frequent disaster during COVID-19,” said Stephanie Couturier, CEO, Red Cross Northern New England Region. “This weekend, take a moment to test your smoke alarms to help protect your family against home fires.”

Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Below are steps to take when testing your alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. That’s because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Check the date of your smoke alarms and follow the instructions.
  • Practice your two-minute escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home before it’s too late. Include at least two ways to get out of every room and 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 can meet.

Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download our free Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

Most of us don’t realize we have just two minutes to escape a home fire. That’s why the Red Cross is preparing families to act quickly through our Home Fire Campaign. Since launching in 2014, the national campaign has helped save at least 836 lives, and reach more than 2.3 million people nationwide. Visit to learn more about this work.