Latinos in South Jersey are a little safer tonight thanks to the American Red Cross and its home fire preparedness initiative. On a cold Saturday morning, nearly 70 volunteers including representatives from the Vineland Office of Emergency Management, fire and police departments, Stockton college students and volunteers from the Rock of Salvation Church joined the Red Cross South Jersey Region to pound the pavement and canvass the predominantly Latino communities with an important message: fire prevention preparedness saves lives.
“It is nice what the Red Cross is doing,” said Vineland resident Felix Mora to the volunteers installing the two smoke alarms in his home. “You go to sleep, and you never know what can happen.”
That day volunteers installed 86 new smoke detectors, changed 27 batteries on existing detectors and assisted 67 families in Mora’s neighborhood, an area local firefighters marked as a high-risk zone for fire-related injuries and deaths, with the creation of fire escape plans.
“Too often Red Cross disaster volunteers go into homes after a fire has occurred to offer emergency assistance. This event is special because we have the opportunity to come into homes before a fire, to assist with replacing batteries, installing smoke alarms and helping to create family escape plans,” said Laura Steinmetz, chief communications officer, Red Cross South Jersey Region. “Preventing fires before they start is the goal of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and the reason we are here today.”
The canvassing event like the one in South Jersey is just one of many happening across the country. The fire prevention campaign aims to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. It encourages everyone to increase the use of smoke alarms and to practice their fire escape plans. A survey conducted for the Red Cross shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States – and the vast majority of those are home fires. To learn more about the Red Cross home fire preparedness campaign visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires.