Reading Time: 2 minutes

To help save lives and increase preparedness, residents throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington can get free smoke alarms in their home by calling (503) 528-5783. Appointments may also be made online. Smoke alarms have a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery and are installed free of charge to residents.

Home fires are the greatest disaster threat to individuals and families across the country. Last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 60,000 home fires across the U.S., including an average of two every day in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

The effort is part of a national Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, launched in 2014 by the American Red Cross. Through the installation of lifesaving smoke alarms and assisting families with home-fire prevention planning, the campaign aims to reduce death and injury caused by home fires by 25 percent over five years.

For one Portland, Ore., resident, the visit by Red Cross volunteers came at a perfect time. “I had one alarm that needed to be replaced,” said Robert Kerseg. “The volunteers installed a new, updated version in the hallway and added a second smoke alarm in the home’s living area. I was thrilled by the whole concept of this safety program and glad to be a part of it.”

More than 60 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.

“When a home fire displaces residents, the Red Cross is often the first call the fire department makes and the first on the scene to assist those affected,” says Amy Shlossman, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Cascades Region. “We provide support through trained disaster action team volunteers — day or night, wherever there is a need. The Red Cross starts the recovery process, helping the residents get to a warm, dry place; identifying immediate needs; and providing lodging and emergency financial assistance for basic necessities, including food and clothing. In the days and weeks that follow, trained Red Cross mental health professionals and case workers help families get back on their feet and make connections to long term service providers where needed.”

Learn more at