Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. Every 40 minutes, an injury from a fire is reported. Nearly 1,000 times every day, fire departments are called to home fires. Damage from US home fires is bigger than the entire annual sales of many Fortune 500 companies.
In an unprecedented effort to combine new technology and innovation with old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach, the Red Cross will save lives, reduce injuries, and cut down on needless losses. In October 2014, the Red Cross began a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the United States by 25% within five years, through the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
On Saturday, November 19, 2016 more than two dozen American Red Cross volunteers and several local community partners joined together for a Home Fire Campaign smoke alarm installation event in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In total 185 smoke alarms were installed that day, bringing the 2016 total to more than 4,000 smoke alarms installed in the four counties that make up the Northeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross.
On this day the importance of the program became readily apparent to all involved upon knocking on the very first door. Gregorio Perez answered that knock on the door and was asked by a Red Cross volunteer if he had any working smoke alarms. His answer was a simple “no” and he didn’t hesitate to let the volunteers in to install these potentially lifesaving smoke alarms. When asked why he didn’t have any smoke alarms, Perez only said that he hadn’t really thought about it.
American Red Cross local community partner John Catalano of Tobyhanna, PA talks with Wilkes-Barre, PA resident Gregorio Perez about a home fire escape plan for he and his family.
Red Cross volunteers worked to install six alarms in the Perez home, one on each floor and one in each bedroom. Volunteers also discussed with Perez the importance of having a home fire escape plan. Perez was extremely grateful to the American Red Cross. This group of volunteers knows their work is important and now knows they may have saved lives that day.
American Red Cross local community partner Xavier Holcomb screws in a smoke alarm plate as Maxine Alexander readies the new 10-year smoke alarm. In the background, Red Cross volunteer Andrew Roth discusses the placement of new smoke alarms in the home with a resident.
Last fiscal year alone, the region installed over 6,400 smoke alarms in homes spanning across our 17 county region. We continue to work with community groups and welcome anyone that is interested in volunteering with the program. Each chapter has scheduled events throughout the year and depends on volunteers and community partners.
For more information or if you are interested in volunteering visit: www.redcross.org/easternpa and click on the link to your local chapter.