According to the American Red Cross, every day seven people die as a result of a home fire. In order to reduce that figure, the Red Cross has launched an initiative aimed at reducing the number of deaths as a result of fires by 20 percent, by the year 2020.
A key part of the initiative is providing free smoke detectors to everyone that wants or needs them in their home.
Locally, the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross staff and volunteers, have been implementing this initiative by installing smoke detectors and educating the community.
“With October being fire preparedness month, we’re trying to ramp up and get the word out about this program,” said Debbie Smith, community executive of the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We’re still installing free smoke detectors and that’s the number one thing that can save lives. We’re encouraging people in the community to call us to have a free smoke detector and if they are not sure their current smoke detector is working, we can help with that too.”
In addition to installing the smoke detectors, the Red Cross works with residents of the home to establish an escape plan for the home. Smith said it’s important to have escape plans that will get them out of the home within two minutes.
Smith said once an escape plan is developed, they are encouraged to practice the drill, to insure everyone in the home is familiar with the plan in the event of an emergency.
“This (escape plan) is the kind of thing people need to be practicing regardless of circumstance,” Smith said.
She said the Red Cross believes it’s important for everyone to have working smoke detectors.
“Seven times a day someone dies in a home fire. We’ve seen this in the news locally, we want to do everything we can to install the smoke detectors and save lives,” Smith said.
Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 379 free smoke detectors have been installed locally. In the last fiscal year, 739 free smoke detectors were installed.
Smith said the goal for the Ohio River Valley Chapter is to exceed 1,000 installations this year and would love to do far more than that.
According to the Red Cross, since the initiative to give people free smoke detectors was first announced in 2014 there have been 499,803 smoke detectors installed. There has been 111 lives saved, 215,183 households made safer and 581,665 youth reached through the campaign.
She said anyone interested in taking part in the program can call the Red Cross at 740-354-3293 to schedule an appointment to have the smoke detector installed.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneallenPDT on Twitter