As part of National Fire Prevention Week, chapters of the American Red Cross in Iowa are launching a campaign to educate the public about fire safety and prevention efforts. Kara Kelly is spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Des Moines.

“The goal is to reduce the number of fire-related injuries and deaths by 25% in five years, so it’s a really large but attainable goal,” Kelly says. “What we’re excited about in Iowa is that a major focus of this campaign is smoke alarm installation and they really are modeling a lot of this on the work we’ve been doing in the Iowa Region.”

The agency has already helped to install almost 32-hundred smoke alarms in seven Iowa communities in recent months — the cities of: Centerville, Des Moines, Lake City, Ottumwa, Newton, Arlington and Nevada. Through September of this year, smoke alarms were verified to be working properly in only 24-percent of the residential fires in Cedar Rapids.

Working smoke alarms reduce a family’s risk of dying in a fire by nearly 50-percent. Kelly has some advice for families to help prevent the tragedy. “The number-one disaster we respond to is the home fire,” Kelly says. “We’re asking folks to check their smoke alarms, make sure they’re working, make sure they have batteries in them. Talk about that fire escape plan. Sit down with your family and talk about where you’re going to go if there’s a fire.”

Last year, Red Cross chapters in Iowa responded to 572 single- and multi-family house fires and assisted more than 21-hundred people with immediate needs like food, clothing and lodging. Learn more about fire safety at

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)