Home fires kill more people in an average year than every other domestic natural disaster combined. On average, seven people die every day from a home fire and 36 people suffer injuries.
To combat this problem, the American Red Cross introduced the Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year initiative to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent by the end of 2019.
As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross in collaboration with local fire departments and other community groups does community outreach – visiting homes to install free smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries and help residents make home fire escape plans. To date, almost 240,000 smoke alarms have been installed nationally, including more than 2,200 installed in the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region.
Recently, as part of the Home Fire Campaign, volunteers installed free smoke alarms in the home of a young family of five in Quincy, Illinois. The volunteers helped the family to create a home fire escape plan and encouraged the family to regularly check the smoke alarms and practice their home escape plan.
In January, the shrill sound of those newly installed smoke alarms alerted the family to a furnace fire in their home. The family was able to quickly evacuate and gather in their designated meeting place outside of the home. Once outside of the home, the family called 9-1-1 and thanks to the fire department’s quick response, there was no major damage to the home.
Having smoke alarms and practicing an escape plan saved five lives – an entire family and their home. Imagine that – five lives saved because people cared.
The family shared their thoughts following the fire, “We were all home during the time of the fire. We heard the smoke alarms go off, and immediately got winter clothes on (because of the cold weather) and exited the home. We then called 911 and my kids went to the neighbor’s house. The fire department arrived and went into the house and put out the fire. It was a furnace fire. When I called 9-1-1, they told me to stay outside, which I did. When the fire department arrived, they shut off the power to the house and inspected the furnace. I guess there was something in the furnace that was burning and causing smoke, and if the smoke alarms didn’t go off . . . I believe it would have kept burning and caught the whole house on fire. Now, because of the extra warning and turning off the furnace before it could fully catch fire, we were able to move back in as soon as the furnace was repaired.”
Nationally, the Home Fire Campaign has saved 69 lives and we are grateful that five of those lives saved were from the Central and Southern Illinois Region.