More than 100 volunteers took to the streets of Newark on Saturday, October 15 to educate families about fire safety and install free smoke alarms as part of the largest American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign canvassing event to-date in New Jersey.
“Smoke alarms can cut the risk of death from a home fire in half,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “We are proud to be partnering with the City of Newark and the Newark Fire Department to help educate families about fire safety and bring free smoke alarms to Newark residents.”
Newark firefighters, together with volunteers from the Red Cross, Hope Worldwide, Tzu Chi Foundation, Rutgers University Red Cross Collegiate Club, Seaton Hall University Red Cross Collegiate Club, Montclair State University Red Cross Collegiate Club, Cedar Grove High School Red Cross Club and Red Cross Essex County Youth Council, went door-to-door visiting more than 1,400 homes across Newark’s five wards. The teams installed 740 free smoke alarms in homes that needed them while helping those families create their fire escape plans.
Volunteers visited Newark resident Yvonne Flemming where they tested the smoke alarms in her home and replaced any non-functioning alarms with new 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms.
“It feels wonderful that someone stops by to make sure people are okay and take care of us,” Flemming said.
During the visit, volunteers talked to Flemming about the importance of having and practicing a family fire escape plan. They explained that the plan should include two ways out of each room in the home and a meeting place a safe distance outside the home.
“I took a look at the fire escape plan,” said Flemming. “Me and my family are going to get together and put our plan in place.”
A second Home Fire Campaign canvassing event took place simultaneously in Asbury Park where volunteers installed approximately 100 smoke alarms.
“I want to extend my sincerest thanks to all of the volunteers and community partners who made today’s Home Fire Campaign events in Newark and Asbury Park a success,” said Sarinelli. “We look forward to continuing to help families across New Jersey be better prepared for and take steps to prevent home fires.”
Since the launch of the campaign, the Red Cross and its community partners have canvassed thousands of New Jersey homes and installed more than 5,500 smoke alarms in cities including Perth Amboy, East Orange, Orange, Jersey City, Linden, Trenton, Irvington, New Brunswick, Paterson, Clifton, Madison, Vineland, Camden, Pleasantville, Oldbridge, Matawan, Eatontown, Carney’s Point, Brick and Toms River.
The Red Cross is urging everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.
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 Preparedness Campaign. To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities in New Jersey or to register as a volunteer, visit redcross.org.