A small Iowa community rallied together to protect two if its citizens from potential fire dangers. Darlene Phillips and Kendall Steele of Goldfield, Iowa are both hearing impaired. During a visit to their homes, Pastor Dawn Smith noticed that neither had smoke alarms suited for their needs. She contacted Goldfield Fire Chief, Jeff Slaikeu for help.
Chief Slaikeu had recently learned about the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in home fires by 25 percent by 2019. He worked with the Red Cross to organize the installation of specialty smoke detectors in the homes of Phillips and Steele.
The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office provided a smoke detectors for the hearing impaired, but they were still short the number needed. State Farm Agent, Holly Narber of Clarion, agreed to provide additional smoke detectors to ensure all rooms in both homes had coverage. Eric Sadler, of Sadler Construction, provided the electrical wiring and installed the new smoke detectors.
While the smoke detectors were being installed by Sadler and Chief Slaikeu, Red Cross Volunteer, Peggy Jordan helped Phillips develop a fire escape plan with the help of Pastor Smith who served as an interpreter. The three women discussed how the smoke detectors work and created a plan to escape, for both during the day and while sleeping.
Before the group left Phillips’ home, they installed three interlinked smoke detectors, with communication features that allow the resident to be alerted if a fire starts in any room.
Tawnta Staten, another Red Cross Volunteer asked Phillips if, “she felt safer now?” Phillips replied by wrapping Staten in a hug and kissing her cheek.
Philips said that knowing the newly installed smoke detectors communicate with each other was a comfort. She said she felt that she would be able to escape with the early warning of the bright strobe light.
Home fires kill more people in an average year than every other domestic natural disaster combined.
HOME FIRE SAFETY There are several things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones from fires. They include:
- Installing smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Developing a fire evacuation plan with all members of the household and practicing it several times a year, at different times of the day.
- Include two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above. Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
- Removing any fire hazards from the home.
Fire departments and communities that are interested in partnering with the Red Cross to help reduce fire deaths and injuries by installing smoke alarms and educating families on fire safety, can call (515) 243-7681.