By Debra R. Cox, American Red Cross volunteer
Many people wish they had more time in a day. What would you do with an extra day each year?
Fifty-five volunteers with the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties gathered to resoundingly answer that question by participating in a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event at five mobile home parks in Escondido on Saturday, February 29. Fueled by its extraordinary cadre of volunteers and pivotal, generous donors, the Red Cross installed free smoke alarms, reviewed fire safety information and helped residents create two-minute fire escape plans. Regularly practiced, these rapid escape plans significantly increase the chance of survival in a home fire.
Nationwide, every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster. Most of these events are home fires, which take a devastating average of seven lives each day. While working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death in half, fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. That is why a discussion of a fire safety plan, including regular testing of installed alarms, and the development and practice of a personal fire escape plan, is incorporated in each home visit.
Martha Maze, one of the day’s volunteers, stated, “I had a home fire and the Red Cross volunteers were the first people who showed me they really cared. They gave me comfort. They said, ‘We are here for you,’ then they later checked up on us. I was so grateful that I decided I needed to do the same for others. That’s why I volunteer for the Red Cross.”
Another energetic volunteer, Reyna Franco, Imperial County’s Sound the Alarm lead, says that she and Martha recently installed 67 smoke alarms in one day, a record in her book. Reyna became involved as a Red Cross volunteer after having a smoke alarm installed in her own home.
Lew Stratton, one of the day’s grateful recipients of smoke alarms, stated, “Thank you so much. Two of my sisters were nurses who worked with the Red Cross, so I really support the mission. I know what this means in people’s lives.”
Nationally, more than 715 lives have been saved thanks to smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross and its partners. Fortunately, there are 365 additional days this year. The Red Cross plans to make each day count.
At the Escondido event, Leap Day volunteers installed 311 smoke alarms and made 149 homes safer. YOU can help save lives, just like these dedicated volunteers. What is a more important use of a day?
For more information on how to get involved with the Red Cross Sound the Alarm program or to request a free smoke alarm installation appointment, please visit SoundTheAlarm.org/SanDiego.