The American Red Cross is committed to preventing and preparing for disasters in all communities it serves. That starts with making sure all residents have the tools and knowledge of how to respond during an emergency. Because over 90% of all disaster responses are home fires, the Red Cross is partnering with several community partners for a 'Home Fire Preparedness Campaign'.
Red Cross volunteers, along with partners from the Mitchell Fire Department went door-to-door to talk with residents about fire safety, help create escape plans, and install smoke alarms in homes that needed them. 280 homes were covered on the one-day event and 123 smoke alarms were installed.
"We've had a couple fires recently so I think it's on the forefronts of people's minds and we've had people come up to use in the last couple weeks talking to us about 'Hey, we've done some things in our home'," Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris said.
In a NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) survey, only 33% of Americans have developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Almost 62% of home fire deaths were a result of non-working smoke alarms or because there were no alarms in the home.
Mary and Duane Hanson are two individuals that had smoke alarms installed and they are glad this service was provided in their neighborhood.
"It's a matter of life or death," Duane Hanson said. "You're only going to use it that one time and if you don't have it, you may not wake up that's all there is too it."
The Red Cross is planning a similar event in Sioux Falls in the near future.