Volunteers with the American Red Cross teamed up with the Perth Amboy Fire Department and HOPE worldwide and went door-to-door in fire-affected neighborhoods of Perth Amboy on Saturday, October 11th. Nearly 50 volunteers braved the bad weather and were out in the rain offering smoke alarm installation in homes that need them and teaching people about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home.
“It is critical that families take steps now to help reduce the risk of fire-related injuries and fatalities,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Having functioning smoke alarms and practicing your fire escape plan can help save lives in the event of a fire.”
The home where longtime Perth Amboy resident Claudina Morales lives was among the more than 300 households volunteers visited. Morales greeted volunteers from the J.P. Stevens High School Red Cross Club on the porch of the home she has lived in for more than forty years. Volunteers talked with Morales about how to develop a fire escape plan for her family.
“I promise to practice a fire escape plan with my family as soon as my daughter gets home today,” said Morales. “Thank you for bringing me this information; it’s important.”
The event kicked off a new campaign by the American Red Cross aiming to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires across the country by as much as 25 percent over the next five years.
The campaign also focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms and encourage families to practice their fire escape plans in communities with high numbers of fires. Based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, Perth Amboy is number one on the list of high fire-risk zip codes in the North Jersey Region.
“We are glad to be here in Perth Amboy helping to bring smoke alarms and fire safety information where it is needed most,” said Paul Gass, regional preparedness manager, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “With the help of the Perth Amboy Fire Department and HOPE worldwide, we were able to talk with members of this community and provide them with information and resources to help save lives.”
After experiencing a fire in her home, Krys Pitre knows firsthand how having a fire escape plan can help save lives.
“I had a plan back then too, but when it’s happening the situation is absolutely traumatizing,” Pitre told volunteers who visited her home with fire safety information. “We make sure our smoke alarms are working and practice our escape plan regularly.”
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.
DON’T KNOW AS MUCH AS WE THINK The Red Cross fire prevention campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire.
The 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 have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they actually have.
You can help people affected by fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
LEARN MORE about fire safety and access free tools available from the Red Cross to help you and your family be better prepared.