By Gabriel Martinez, AmeriCorps serving the American Red Cross Northwest Region
The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is a national outreach effort launched in 2014 to install free, lifesaving smoke alarms in homes that need them throughout the United States. Red Crossers in the Northwest reached an ambitious regional goal of installing 4,000 alarms from July 2015 to June 2016.
David Adams, a retired volunteer firefighter of 33 years, found himself the victim of a home fire this spring.
“I was heating up some food on the stove and I walked out, which is a cardinal sin,” said David. He had begun doing other things in his house when the smoke alarm sounded.
“I heard the smoke alarm go off and by the time I got to the kitchen, the fire had flared up on me.”
Despite his firefighting experience, David sustained a burn when he tried to put out the fire.
“I tried getting it out myself but I couldn’t do it,” he said. David lives with his wife and grandson, one of 14 grandchildren, but they were gone at the time of the fire.
“I got the animals out of the house and called 911. The firefighters were there within minutes.”
David attributes being alerted to the fire to a recent visit from the Red Cross.
“It wasn’t even two months before the fire that they put that smoke alarm up for me,” said David. “The other ones weren’t working, which I didn’t know at the time.”
Red Crossers were in David’s home installing an alarm as a part of the Home Fire Campaign. The campaign, which started in 2014, aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over five years.
David is the 93rd documented life saved from the campaign.
The Red Cross was there to help prepare David before the fire and help his family recover. Following the fire, the Red Cross ensured he and his family had a safe place to stay and their immediate emergency needs were met.
“I just want to thank the Red Cross again. They just helped us out with everything you could think of.”
Thankfully, David’s home had a functioning smoke alarm that alerted him to the fire, though not all do. You can help prepare your home for the risk of home fire by testing smoke alarms monthly and practicing evacuating your home in under two minutes.