ILLINOIS (WCIA) — As clocks are turned back Nov. 5, the American Red Cross encourages everyone to also test whether home smoke alarms are in working order.

Over the past week, local Red Cross volunteers assisted 11 people involved in 6 house fires spanning Herrin, Springfield, Centralia, Frankfort and Vandalia. Out of more than 60,000 disasters per year that the Red Cross responds to nationwide, house fires are the most prominent.

“Home fires claim more lives every year than all natural disasters combined, but working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” said Dawn Morris, Executive Director of the Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois. “The sooner an alarm alerts you to a fire, the sooner you can get out. When you turn your clocks back this weekend, test your smoke alarms too to help prevent a tragedy in your home.” 

Now, as you turn your clocks back for daylight saving time this weekend, the Red Cross recommends checking smoke alarms while you’re at it. If needed, replace the batteries.

Here are some more helpful fire safety tips:

  • Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms.
  • If your smoke alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them. Sensors and other components can become less sensitive over time. Be sure to follow instructions from the alarm’s manufacturer.
  • Create and practice a fire escape plan. Everyone should be able to get out in under two minutes.
  • Make sure every room has at least two ways to get out, and choose a safe meeting spot outside (such as a neighbor’s house or a specific tree in your front yard).

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has saved at least 1,928 lives since 2014. They work to teach families about fire safety, create escape plans and install free smoke alarms in high-risk areas. If you cannot afford smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, call 800-Red Cross or visit

Visit to create an escape plan to practice with your family, or download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores.