October 14, 2022. North Las Vegas, Nevada. Cherise Coleman and her family escaped a fire unharmed at their North Las Vegas home in September 2022, thanks to free smoke alarms installed a few years earlier by American Red Cross volunteers, including Eva Stowers (left).
Few disasters cause as much harm to people and their homes as a fire. As an organization dedicated to helping respond to disasters, the American Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in October 2014, embarking on a journey to promote preparedness, and prevent the needless loss of lives and trauma landing patients in a burn unit.
Each year, the Home Fire Campaign engages low-income communities who are at most risk. These communities often lack the necessary resources to adequately prepare and prevent home fires or the economic stability to recover should disaster strike.
Today, more than 1 million households are safer because the Red Cross helped families create escape plans, installed free smoke alarms and educated about fire safety, protecting both residents and first responders.
The role of blood in burn units
Through the work of the Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign, 1,749 lives have been saved nationwide , keeping patients out of burn units and helping to divert thousands of units of red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and platelets to other patients in need.
Burn victims with major injury receive significant volumes of blood during treatment. Transfusions result in an average of about 20 blood units per patient even with a restrictive strategy. According to research shared by NIH “patients with major burn injury have major transfusion requirements (> one blood volume) from surgical blood loss, decreased red cell production, increased red cell destruction, and iatrogenic blood testing, making transfusions ubiquitous,” (Palmieri et al, 2017).
But when disaster does strike, we are there
Home fires account for the largest percentage of disasters responded to by the American Red Cross. For many of the victims facing devastation and loss few things are more daunting than learning to navigate a fragmented system of services, each with its own conditions and list of requirements. For victims of home fires, our services extend to supporting the injured and addressing their urgent needs like food, lodging, financial assistance, and other necessities on the road to recovery. Although the best strategy for burn injury and loss is fire prevention, when facing tragedy, the Red Cross is ready to serve those in need on every front.
Palmieri TL, Holmes JH 4th, Arnoldo B, Peck M, Potenza B, Cochran A, King BT, Dominic W, Cartotto R, Bhavsar D, Kemalyan N, Tredget E, Stapelberg F, Mozingo D, Friedman B, Greenhalgh DG, Taylor SL, Pollock BH. Transfusion Requirement in Burn Care Evaluation (TRIBE): A Multicenter Randomized Prospective Trial of Blood Transfusion in Major Burn Injury. Ann Surg. 2017 Oct;266(4):595-602. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002408. PMID: 28697050; PMCID: PMC5848498.