Safety Games, Smiles and Smoke Alarms

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By Cassylee Mead

Edited by Nancy Waddell

I have been interning for the American Red Cross writing stories about phenomenal volunteers and Snohomish County chapter happenings since June 1. However, in celebration of the chapter’s 100 years of service, I signed up to participate in the Home Fire Campaign, installing smoke alarms in local homes. As a storyteller, I live vicariously through those I talk to, but this time I would have the privilege of participating in one of the Red Cross’s campaigns carrying out their humanitarian mission.

Home fires kill more people in an average year than every other domestic natural disaster combined – an average of seven people lose their lives each day in home fires. That is why the American Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014. One of the goals is to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent by 2020.

As I arrived at the predetermined meeting spot, I immediately felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself. By installing smoke alarms, the other volunteers and I would be cutting the risk of death in half for residents if a fire did happen. The Home Fire Campaign has saved at least 111 lives since it started in 2014. The installation hadn’t started yet, and my heart was already filled with so much joy.

As we pulled up to the first install, my heart was beating rapidly and I became fearful of intruding into someone’s home. Was this rational? Absolutely not. They had signed up for this. They knew we were coming. Nonetheless, I was worried. I knocked twice but there was no answer. We waited and then the door opened.

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My fears were immediately put to rest as a woman and a young child welcomed us into their home with smiles on their faces. My partner checked the smoke alarms to see if they were over 10-years-old. Both of the smoke alarms she had in the home were from the year 2000. Any smoke alarm that is over 10 years old is most likely not going to be set off due to smoke because it won’t pick up the particles, so my teammate started replacing them.

Meanwhile, I did what I do best – talk. I went over fire safety with the mother. “Keep an eye on where you fry,” have a two-minute escape plan and keep fire hazards, such as lighters and matches, away from children were just some of the things I went over while my teammate installed the smoke alarms.

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