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Home Fire Campaign Installs 10,000 Free Smoke Alarms in NJ

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"Thanks to the Red Cross, I’ll feel safer going to sleep tonight now that my daughter and I know what to do should we have a fire."

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign aims to help reduce the number of home fire-related injuries and fatalities in New Jersey and across the county.  

As part of the multi-year campaign, the Red Cross is partnering with municipalities, fire departments and community organizations to help families be bettered prepared for and take important steps to prevent home fires. Volunteers from the Red Cross and partner organizations have been visiting homes in high fire-risk cities talking to families about fire safety and installing free smoke alarms in homes that need them.

During simultaneous Home Fire Campaign events on Saturday, April 2 in Union City and Willingboro, the campaign surpassed 10,000 smoke alarm installations in New Jersey since its launch in October of 2014. 

“We are grateful for all of the volunteers and community partners who have helped make the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign a success in New Jersey,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Thanks to their efforts, thousands of families have received free smoke alarms and fire safety education to help keep them safe.”

Working in partnership with Mayor Brian Stack, the City of Union City and North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, volunteers with the Red Cross, the Union City Civic Association, Friends of Rigby Foundation and Jersey Cares went door-to-door in neighborhoods in Union City. The volunteers helped families be better prepared should a fire break out in their home and installed 75 smoke alarms. 

Teams visited more than 150 families, including Laura Cucci and daughter Scarlett Rose, who welcomed the volunteers in their home. Firefighters checked to make sure her smoke alarms were working and a Red Cross volunteer walked Laura through creating her family fire escape plan.

“I’m impressed by the care Union City is taking with its residents,” said Cucci. “Thanks to the Red Cross, I’ll feel safer going to sleep tonight now that my daughter and I know what to do should we have a fire.”

Union City resident Elisabeth Stevens had just moved from New York one week before the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign event. She shared with the team that just prior to her move, a horrific fire had occurred close to her apartment and showed photos of intense flames shooting out of her neighbor’s window. Although the fire was contained before it reached Elisabeth’s home, the incident had left her feeling anxious. 

“The fire was so scary. It was tragic to see everything my neighbors owned go up in flames,” said Elisabeth. 

Elisabeth was extremely grateful to the Red Cross and partners for the detailed fire-safety lesson and smoke alarm installs. 

“You’ve put my mind at ease,” said Elisabeth. “Thank you. I feel safe in my new home.”

Meanwhile in Willingboro, the Red Cross teamed up with Mayor Nat Anderson, Township of Willingboro and the Willingboro Fire Department for a Home Fire Campaign event where volunteers installed 418 free smoke alarms. 

Since the launch of the campaign, the American Red Cross New Jersey Region and its community partners have installed more than 10,400 smoke alarms and educated 36,000 families about fire safety in cities including Perth Amboy. Camden, East Orange, Orange, Jersey City, Linden, Trenton, Irvington, New Brunswick, Paterson, Clifton, Madison, Vineland, Pleasantville, Old Bridge, Matawan, Eatontown, Carney’s Point, Brick, Toms River, Upper Township, Asbury Park, Union City and Newark.

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The Red Cross is asking every household across the country to get involved by taking two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing their fire escape plan.

PRACTICE YOUR FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Fire experts agree that when a fire breaks out, families have as little as two minutes to escape from their burning home. Regularly practiced fire escape plans ensure all members of your household know what to do should a fire occur. Make sure everyone is able to exit the home in less than two minutes. If you don’t have a fire escape plan, develop one today.

CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS All residences should have properly installed, functioning smoke alarms. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms monthly and replace any that aren’t operational immediately. At minimum, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

To learn more about fire safety and access free tools and resources, visit redcross.org/firesafety.

JOIN US! It is through the time and care of ordinary people that extraordinary things can be accomplished. The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels and is inviting members of the community to become volunteers.

There are many ways people can get involved, including participating in the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities in New Jersey or to register as a volunteer, visit redcross.org.