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A Blog by TA & Petro Stopping Centers

TravelCenters of America Joins the Red Cross to Sound the Alarm

In the event of a fire, you have approximately two minutes to escape a burning home. Just two minutes. But with working fire alarms – placed and installed correctly – and an evacuation plan, it’s much more likely you’ll make it to safety.

When the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio found that many homes in at-risk communities had poorly placed, nonoperational or no smoke alarms at all, they created Sound the Alarm. Since 1992, they’ve gathered volunteers and canvassed targeted neighborhoods, installing smoke alarms and providing home fire safety education, free of charge.

Volunteer installing a new smoke alarm

Four years ago, the American Red Cross took Sound the Alarm to the national stage. In those four years, volunteers have joined events in more than 100 at-risk communities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Together, they’ve installed 1,651,273 smoke alarms in 684,260 households. Those alarms have saved 582 confirmed lives.

Smoke alarm installation supplies

On April 27, TravelCenters of America headquarters joined the movement. 12 TravelCenters employees, including members of the executive and senior leadership team, attended the Sound the Alarm event in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

TravelCenters smoke alarm installation team

At the event, volunteers were trained as smoke alarm installers, fire safety educators or documenters. They broke up into teams including each of these positions.

Smoke alarm installation training

Ultimately these teams were able to install 386 smoke alarms with state of the art lithium batteries at 165 homes, stopping and taking time to review a home fire safety checklist and create an evacuation plan at each.

Fire safety education

Volunteer removing old smoke alarm

Teams also left door hangers with information for residents to schedule an alarm installation at a later date, with the Red Cross team.

Smoke alarm door hanger

TravelCenters headquarters has supported the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio long before this event. Over the past 20 years, our employees have generously donated thousands of Christmas gifts to be distributed to families who lost their homes due to fire. This is a treasured holiday tradition for many, which will continue for years to come as our employees continue to become more involved with fire prevention as well.

TA Christmas gifts for Red Cross

Are you protecting your home from fire? Check out these American Red Cross fire safety tips. You may find some new advice to keep yourself and your family safe.

Fire Prevention

  • Home fires usually start in the kitchen, so never leave cooking unattended.
  • Keep all furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire at least three feet away from any type of heat source.
  • Large and small appliances should be plugged directly into wall outlets.
  • Lock away matches and lighters.

Smoke Alarms

  • Test your smoke alarms’ batteries monthly, including any 9-volt, long-line or hardwired alarms.
  • If your alarm requires batteries, replace them every six months.
  • Smoke alarm sensors wear out after 10 years – even if you change the batteries.
  • Not sure how old your alarms are? Check the manufacturing date on the back of the device. The safest practice is to replace the alarms after five years.
  • There should be at least one alarm on every level of the home, ideally in hallways between sleeping areas, living areas on the main level but away from the kitchen or at the bottom of the basement stairs.
  • The preferred smoke alarm installation location is on the ceiling, never closer than four inches to any wall.
  • Avoid placing alarms by fans and air vents.
  • Install them 10 to 15 feet away from any appliance, such as a stove, refrigerator or dryer.
  • Install them six feet away from furnaces or water heaters.
  • Install them three feet away from fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Do not install alarms in attics, bathrooms or garages.
  • Do not install alarms near exterior doors, windows or drafty and dusty areas.


  • Draw a home fire escape plan that includes two ways out from every room.
  • Post the plan in a prominent place.
  • Identify a safe meeting place.
  • Practice your fire escape plan at least once per year, ideally when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Smoke is very dangerous, stay low to avoid breathing it in.
  • Never reenter a burning house.
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