Seven times a day someone dies in a home fire and a fire-related injury is reported every 40 minutes. That’s why the American Red Cross initiated a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, with a goal to reduce these figures by 25 percent within five years.
The Red Cross in Stevens Point teamed up with the Stevens Point Fire Department and RSVP Saturday, October 11 to kick-off the program. Volunteers went door-to-door and installed smoke alarms in residents’ homes. They also provided home safety checklists, talked with residents about fire safety and helped them identify fire escape plans. This wasn’t just a local campaign, though. Red Cross chapters throughout the country were participating as well.
“It’s powerful when chapters across the nation do it together, as ‘One Red Cross’. It’s all of our initiative, we all own it,” said Wendy Savage, community chapter executive for the North Central Chapter of the Red Cross. “The neighborhood we targeted had 16 injuries and even fatalities in the past four years, which makes education even more important to residents. By having a working alarm and practicing a family escape plan, you cut your chances of dying in a fire by 50 percent.”
The Red Cross had gone door-to-door the week before to let residents know they would be installing smoke alarms. Red Cross workers weren’t the only ones excited about this campaign; many Stevens Point residents were thrilled the Red Cross had started the initiative. Ryan Hay, was glad the Red Cross had done this. “Even just knowing someone was coming to check in on my smoke detectors forced me beforehand to take stock of what I had.”
The lead Red Cross volunteer, John Grosman, for the Stevens Point campaign, knows first-hand how devastating a home fire can be. “I’m with the Red Cross because our house burned down when I was a kid. And there were no fire departments around, and nobody else came but the Red Cross. The fact that they can take the lead on this type of issue is great.”
Red Cross volunteers were in agreement the day was a success and are already looking forward to future events. “Down the line we may hear from a family who was saved by a smoke alarm we installed and maybe helping them make an evacuation plan could save lives. So, this is worth it,” Wendy concluded.
By Lindsey Puls, American Red Cross Volunteer
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Photo: Ryan Brockman and Catherine Nolan, American Red Cross disaster action team members install smoke alarms during the North Central Wisconsin Chapters Fire Canvassing Day in Stevens Point Wisconsin