BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Following 450 home fires over the past three months in Alabama, the Red Cross urges residents to test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan with everyone in their household.

Local Red Cross volunteers helped 1,438 people affected by these fires, providing essentials like: shelter, emergency financial assistance, food, relief items like toiletries, health and mental health services, and one-on-one support to connect affected residents to available recovery assistance. The recent fires are among more than 1,730 home fires that we’ve responded to so far this year in Alabama.

“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these tragic fires, as we continue to provide support to those who need it,” Damon Summers, Alabama and Mississippi Region Regional Disaster Officer said. “Although apartment and condo buildings are more likely to have sprinkler systems and fire alarms, it’s still critical to have a fire escape plan and working smoke alarms in your unit.”

HOW TO STAY SAFE Residents can follow these tips to help stay safe:

  • Learn the building’s fire safety features, including fire alarms, sprinklers and evacuation plans.
  • Make sure all exits are clearly marked and not blocked.
  • Know locations of all available exit stairwells, as one or more of the exits might be blocked by fire.
  • Individuals with access or functional needs, including a disability, should learn where the closest area of safe refuge is.
  • Identify a meeting place for members of your household that is outside and away from the building.
  • Talk to your apartment management if you have concerns about alarms or sprinklers in your unit.
  • If smoke or fire enters your unit and you cannot immediately escape, call 9-1-1 to report your location. Open a window slightly; wave a bright cloth or a light at night to identify your location. If smoke enters the unit, stay low to the floor to breathe the best air.

For home fire safety resources and tips, visit or download the free Red Cross Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to