12:42 PM

Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen® Program, American Red Cross, Safe Kids Worldwide and Others Partner to Launch New Home Fire Drill Day

Columbus, OH - In a recent survey*, Nationwide found that only one in five parents regularly practice fire escape plans at home and nearly half of all parents surveyed (45%) report that their children do not know what to do in the event of a fire at home. Yet, home fires are the biggest disaster threat facing American families today with nine in 10 structure fires occurring in the home1, and more than eight in 10 fire-related deaths resulting from home fires2.

To raise awareness of this issue and encourage families to be more prepared when it comes to fire safety, Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen® program is launching Home Fire Drill Day on Saturday, October 15, 2016. This observance day is in collaboration with multiple expert partners, including the American Red Cross, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Safe Kids Worldwide, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“We are launching Home Fire Drill Day with our partners to encourage families across the country to pledge to practice home fire drills on October 15 – the last day of Fire Prevention Week,” said Mike Boyd, Nationwide’s senior vice president of enterprise brand. “We all practice fire drills at work and children do the same at school, and we need to do them at home as well, where fires are most likely to happen. We want every family member to know exactly what to do in the event of a home fire.”

This month, like-minded parties from the public and private sector are collaborating on this single, life-saving call to action. The partners are sharing simple tips and tools for families to use on this new observance day. Home Fire Drill Day tips include:

  • Pick a family safety spot outside that’s near your home and a safe distance away
  • Test your smoke alarms with your kids so they know what the beep sounds like
  • For children under six, assign an adult to help them
  • Use a timer to ensure everyone can get out to the safety spot in two minutes or less – this is how much time a family has to safely exit the house in the event of a fire
  • Finalize the plan by drawing it out, marking every window and door, and your safety spot

“Without learning how to best react to a fire in advance, a child may hide under a bed or in a closet rather than quickly heading to safety when a smoke alarm starts beeping,” said Harvey Johnson, senior vice president of Disaster Cycle Services for the American Red Cross. “It is our intent that by focusing on Home Fire Drill Day, families can reduce potential for death or injury associated with home fires by educating their kids, preparing as a family, and even having a little fun while doing it.”

With the help of expert partners, Make Safe Happen® has developed a series of interactive fire drill games available at HomeFireDrillDay.com. From racing the clock to escaping while playing musical chairs, the games are a unique way to get the hang of doing a home fire drill so that in a real emergency, parents and children are well-prepared.

“Home fires can start and spread quickly, so it’s important for families to know what to do in case of an emergency,” stated Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Taking the time now to create and practice your home escape plan can save your family’s lives. We encourage everyone to join in Home Fire Drill Day on October 15.”

In addition to practicing a home fire drill, Nationwide and the American Red Cross are also encouraging families to check and replace smoke alarms to ensure smoke alarms are operating properly – and that they have working batteries. With support from Nationwide, the American Red Cross has been canvassing communities to install free smoke alarms in homes across the country in the communities at the highest risk for home fires.

To date, the American Red Cross has installed more than 470,000 smoke alarms and directly saved more than 110 lives, many like the Saunders family of Columbus, Ohio. Their home was destroyed by a fire in July of this year – just 11 days after receiving two free smoke alarms from the American Red Cross. The smoke alarm nearest to their teen daughter’s room sounded and the family was able to evacuate safely. By the time the fire department arrived, the upstairs was destroyed.

Families can find more information and fire drill games at HomeFireDrillDay.com, or by downloading the Make Safe Happen® app – with new functionality designed just for Home Fire Drill Day. The app has a step-by-step fire drill function that puts these life-saving tips in the palm of the user’s hand. 


This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from November 4, 2015 to November 13, 2015. Respondents comprised 1,001 parents or guardians of children ages 0 to 12 years old. Results are weighted to the U.S. General Population of adults with children ages 0-12 by age by gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, employment status, household income, marital status and number of children in household. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. 

About Make Safe Happen®

Make Safe Happen® is a program dedicated to reducing accidental injury – the leading cause of death among children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly nine million children are treated at emergency rooms across the country and nearly 8,000 children die each year due to accidental injuries. Protecting child safety and wellbeing for more than 60 years, Nationwide launched Make Safe Happen® in 2015 to empower parents, caregivers and children with tools and resources to make homes safer. Together with its Advisory Council, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Worldwide, the Make Safe Happen® program has delivered over one million safety actions through 2016 with the hope of reducing childhood accidental injury and death. To learn more and take action, visit www.makesafehappen.com.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

[1] International Association of Fire Fighters

[2] Safe Kids Worldwide