Volunteers from the Southern Prairie Chapter of the American Red Cross went door-to-door on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, in Ottumwa, helping to install smoke alarms, and talking with people about how to prevent home fires and how to escape safely should a fire occur. The American Red Cross partnered with the Ottumwa Fire Department, Wapello County Rural Fire and United Way of Wapello County to complete the project.
During this one day blitz, Day of Caring volunteers assisted with the installation of hundreds of smoke alarms and provided disaster preparedness information to more than 500 homes! The day long project targeted seven communities the Ottumwa Fire Department determined were at high risk for fires.
Volunteers met early Wednesday morning at the Quincy Place Mall, received a brief training and then were deployed in teams of three or four. The teams consisted of a firefighter, Red Cross volunteer and a Day of Caring volunteer.
“Fire is the biggest disaster threat to American families—not floods, hurricanes or tornadoes,” said Brandon Holstrom, Regional Disaster Functions Support Manager for the Red Cross. “And home fires are one disaster that can usually be prevented when people understand how to protect their families.”
Nationally, on average, the Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to people affected by approximately 63,000 fires every year, or about one fire every eight minutes. Southern Prairie Chapter disaster workers responded to 44 home fires last year.
The smoke alarm installation project was made possible in part by a $10,000 grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.