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DST: ‘Turn And Test’ To Stay Safe From Home Fires
red cross

As people turn their clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, the American Red Cross of the Heart of the Valley encourages everyone to also test their smoke alarms.

In 2020, local Red Cross volunteers helped 461 individuals and families with urgent needs like emergency lodging, financial assistance and recovery planning, following 244 homes fires in Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

“Home fires remain the nation’s most frequent disaster during COVID-19,” said John Ruiz, Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “This weekend, after turning your clocks an hour forward, take a moment to test your smoke alarms to help protect your family against home fires.”


How To ‘Turn And Test’

Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Following 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 old 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. Local Red Cross volunteers are also meeting virtually with families to review fire safety steps for their household. To make an appointment for your family, visit


Home Fire Campaign Saves Lives

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 its Home Fire Campaign. Since launching in 2014, the national campaign has helped save at least 836 lives, and has reached more than 2.3 million people nationwide. Visit to learn more about this important work.


The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit or, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.