American Red Cross Fire Awareness Campaign Hits Social

Imagine watching your most precious photos burn before your eyes.

For home fire victims – some 70,000 families annually – that is exactly the kind of heartbreak they experience.

The American Red Cross recently began a new social media campaign to promote fire awareness, and it’s based almost entirely through Facebook and Twitter.

When you visit the campaign site,, you’ll be asked to connect through Facebook. From there, the campaign virtually will burn six randomly selected images from your Facebook photos.

Sounds kind of gruesome, right? That’s the point.

“The single largest disaster that the Red Cross responds to is home fires,” said Jackie Mitchell, director of marketing and communications for the Greater Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross.

In fact, home fires represent more than 90 percent of the disasters the American Red Cross responds to. Its disaster response typically involves food, shelter, and emotional support. 

But because home fires occur one family at a time, very little is ever seen or told of these personal tragedies. So they fly under the radar of media coverage and never garner the kind of donations that larger disasters receive.

Mitchell said families almost get hit with a double whammy – the disaster itself and the lack of community support. So Red Cross officials chose Facebook to show how home fire victims are impacted. 

“Facebook is the closest thing we have to a home online,” she said. “When we talk with victims of fire, their concern is about losing the same things. Their first concern is for their family. Their second concern is losing their photos.”

The campaign launched in March. 

Forty Red Cross chapters around the country have participated and several media sites, including Chicago Breaking News, Metromix, Mashable, and Social Media Club, have raised awareness through traditional public service announcements and social media participation. 

Once visitors connect to the fire awareness campaign through Facebook and experience the virtual burning of photos, visitors get the option of either donating to the American Red Cross or sharing the experience through a Facebook wall post or tweet (#80seconds).

Mitchell noted that the campaign doesn’t actually destroy any photos. The campaign also will not pull a user’s personal information or that of any of your friends.

For more information about the American Red Cross, visit


Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and a former Red Crosser. You can follow her on Twitter @cpcube.