A St. Cloud man is very grateful for a small but vital gift. In mid-January, volunteers from the Central Florida Region of the American Red Cross went door to door in the St. Cloud neighborhood where 76 year-old Michael Vance resides. They offered and installed free smoke alarms and educated residents on how to make an emergency plan.
The event was part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign which is committed to reducing the number of fire deaths and serious injuries in the United States by 25 percent by 2020.
Michael had some smoke alarms already in his mobile home, but was not sure if they worked. Red Cross volunteers and partners installed a smoke alarm in Michael’s home and checked the others. Following the installation, volunteers helped Michael personalize a plan for escaping the home should a fire erupt. Just two weeks later, Michael had to put that plan into action.
Early Sunday morning on February 28, Michael’s alarm clock light flickered; he smelled a light scent of smoke. Michael got up to investigate and that’s when the shrill sound of the Red Cross smoke alarm and one of the older, pre-existing smoke alarms permeated the home. That’s when he knew that he had to take immediate action and get out of his home.
He knew from the Fire Escape Planning and Fire Safety Education that he received during the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign In-home visit that he had to evacuate his house immediately once smoke alarms sounded and he was not to go back into his home.
Michael said that the Fire Safety information he received was very thorough and helped him understand how important it was to get out and stay out of his burning home.
The cause of fire appeared to be electrical. Michael lost most of his belongings due to the fire, smoke and water damage.
“Every day, Red Cross volunteers step onto a family’s doorstep in the moments after they have suffered a fire to help them through one of the worst times in their life,” said Linda Jorge Carbone, CEO of the Central Florida Region. “This campaign puts us on that doorstep before the unthinkable happens. And, just like Michael, we are able to give them the tools to know how to safely survive and prevent a larger tragedy.”
Home fires are the most common disaster. Seven times a day in the U.S. someone dies in a home fire. The American Red Cross of Central Florida responds to an average of 3 disasters a day – 93 percent of which are home fires.
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About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.