By Merrell Waring, American Red Cross volunteer
Every day, seven people die in home fires. Most of these tragedies occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives - that's why we launched our Home Fire Campaign in 2014. Sound the Alarm events, during which Red Cross volunteers and partners go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and provide home fire safety information, are a critical part of the campaign. In just six years, these home visits have accomplished so much, including the installation of more than 2 million smoke alarms and preparing more than 2 million people against home fires across the nation.
On January 18, 2020, the Red Cross hosted a Sound the Alarm event in Stanton, California, with over 150 Red Cross volunteers and partners. Trained educators provided over 500 residents with home fire safety information and 382 smoke alarms were installed.
Here are just a few of the meaningful ways the Red Cross was able to touch peoples’ lives that day:
Kim Wymer, local high school senior, installs smoke alarms for the first time
Eighteen-year-old Kim Wymer sits on the board of directors at her school’s Red Cross Club, donates blood annually and facilitates CPR trainings. She has certified more than 100 people in CPR over the past three years and volunteers about eight hours each week for the Red Cross. She plans to go to college after graduation to study business, English and education.
This was Wymer’s first Sound the Alarm event. After learning how to properly install and test smoke alarms, she’s seen here installing her very first smoke alarm for Stanton resident Maria Bautista’s family.
Ms. Bautista stated, “I am so grateful for this! Six of us live here and having four alarms installed in our home makes it much safer. Thank you, American Red Cross!”
Wymer is one of the 97 teenage volunteers who sacrificed their Saturday morning to help the Red Cross make Stanton neighborhoods safer. Her team of seven people installed 40 smoke alarms that day. Kim was thrilled to install three of these smoke alarms herself.
Wymer said, “I’ve made so many friends through my work with the Red Cross. I would not have made half the friends I have without my work with the Red Cross.”
Red Cross volunteers are unexpected but welcome guests at Stanton birthday party
When Red Cross volunteers knocked on the Moore family’s door, little did they know Mike and Paulette Moore were hosting a birthday party inside. Luckily, the Red Cross team came bearing gifts—five smoke alarms! The team installed these alarms in less than 10 minutes, giving the Moore’s home a free, much- needed fire safety update.
Mike Moore said he was thrilled by the generosity of the Red Cross. “I did not know the Red Cross did this for people. What a great service! It’s nice to know that donations go to services like this.”
Stanton family grateful to Red Cross for fire safety makeover
Stanton resident Karyl Lehman thought her home security company had installed all the necessary smoke alarms.
But, when the Red Cross stopped by and offered to evaluate her home, she discovered she needed four additional smoke alarms to make her home safe.
A volunteer team installed three smoke alarms in Lehman’s bedrooms and one in the guest house. They took the time to review Lehman’s home fire escape plan, explained how to check the smoke alarms and showed her where the smoke alarms are most effective.
“Thank you, Red Cross. I wasn’t sure we had enough, and I learned about where smoke alarms should be installed. This saved me money and now I’m sure we’re as safe as possible,” said Lehman.
Aspiring firefighters spend their Saturday making Stanton safer
Eric Sells, 17-year-old high school junior, Giovanni Perez, 21-year-old college student, and Luis Barreto, 22-year-old college student, are all aspiring firefighters from Santa Ana.
For the last three years, the trio estimate they have teamed up at more than 60 fire prevention events for their volunteer organization, Orange County Fire Explorers. They say they spend at least two days a week attending and organizing fire prevention events at their local Post 9675.
At this Sound the Alarm event, the team of young men went door-to-door installing smoke alarms while giving tips on installation, maintenance and home fire safety. With the help of others on their team, they installed 40 smoke alarms in four hours.
“We always work together. We either have family members or friends who are firefighters, and we know we help people,” said Sells. “I’m grateful that this program exists for us, and thankful that the Red Cross does so much to help people with fire safety.”
Visit SoundtheAlarm.org/DTS to learn more and request a free smoke alarm installation in your home. If you would like to become a volunteer like the many humanitarians featured here, visit redcross.org/volunteer.