Local universities joined the American Red Cross, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, City of Sioux Falls Health Department and Live Well Sioux Falls as the Red Cross canvassed 1,500 homes in the city of Sioux Falls.
Students and faculty of both Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls helped canvass homes in the neighborhoods around their campuses to install smoke alarms and help keep families safe. Many of the homes are occupied by fellow students.
USF Dean of Students, Corey Ross, knows all too well how fire can affect people. As an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University, an entire hall of sleeping students was engulfed in flames and toxic smoke due to a fire. A fellow classmate perished in the blaze, just days before his wedding.
“None of us ever thought it could happen,” Ross said. “In college, you think you’re invincible.”
"Taking 15 minutes per house is what can make the difference between life or death,” USF Student Body President, Lauren Nelson added. “Such an easy way to make a difference.”
Augustana University Director of Campus Safety, Rick Tupper, also stressed the importance of preparedness, as many students move into rental properties and are not protecting themselves from a potential disaster.
"As our students are moving out into the neighborhood we want them to know, and the people that are living in our neighborhood to know, that there are steps that they can take to keep themselves safe," Tupper said.”
In Sioux Falls alone, over 6,000 homes have been canvassed and a 73 year old man is alive today because of this program.
“We are making progress and that is the encouraging thing, said Red Cross Executive Director, Tony Burke. “But we still have a lot of work to do and we are committed to it.”