On Saturday, November 8th, nearly a dozen Crete High School students donned a Red Cross Disaster vest before pounding the pavement in their community. The goal, to install lifesaving smoke alarms in the community of nearly 6,900 people. “I’m here to make a difference in my town,” said 17 year-old Barbara Ortiz.
The piercing sound of smoke alarms could be heard radiating through the fall air as teams of Red Crossers knocked on doors to talk about home fire safety and make sure residents have a working smoke alarms.
The Red Cross is making sure working smoke alarms are in homes because of this heartbreaking statistic – seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness campaign is designed to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. The initiative focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.
“Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half, so we’re joining with groups from across our community to install smoke alarms,” said Jill Orton, Region Executive. “We also will be teaching people how to be safe from home fire.”
The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.
For Ortiz, knowing how to evacuate during a fire hits home, just last year her family escaped their burning house. “I had a space heater too close to the curtains. They caught fire in my bedroom,” said Ortiz.
The teen recalled yelling for help to put the flames out, but the fire spread too fast. A team of Red Cross disaster responders answered the family’s call for help and provided assistance with basic needs. Things like food, clothing, and a safe place for them to stay.
Barbara spent time with each homeowner drawing a map of their home and walking them through an evacuation plan. “I want to make sure people know how to get out if a fire happens to them.”
In all, 40 Red Cross volunteers visited 250 homes. With the support of Fire Chief Tod Allen and the Crete Volunteer Firefighters, 85 lifesaving smoke alarms were installed in homes.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.