By Ashley Henyan
A home fire can happen anytime and anywhere. No one understands this more than Linda Duncan, a resident in the Garfield neighborhood in SE Washington, DC. While living with her grandmother, as a young child under the age of ten, Duncan was forced to flee her home to escape a fire.
“The whole house burnt right to the ground and that was so scary,” Duncan said. “I will never forget it.”
The grandmother of six was thrilled when Red Cross volunteers and DC Fire & Rescue Personnel knocked on her door on May 7th, as part of the Red Cross 2022 Sound the Alarm campaign.
“When I saw it was volunteers with smoke alarms I let them right in,” Duncan said. “I have my four children and all my grandchildren here quite a lot of the time. These new smoke alarms are going to make my house safer for me and my entire family.”
Duncan, who wore a sling on one arm due to a shoulder injury, was grateful for the help.
“I couldn’t get up on the ladder and hold on to that equipment. I’m happy the Red Cross came by.”
Having properly working smoke alarms reduces home fire-related deaths and injuries by 50 percent. This is why the American Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign - to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and sit down with families to create home fire escape plans - in 2014. Since its inception these efforts have saved nearly 1,300 lives across the U.S.
Ms. Duncan’s home needed four new smoke alarms, which a team of three Red Cross volunteers installed, alongside DC Fire and Rescue personnel.
“Smoke alarms are really important because they are an early alert that allows people to get out,” said DC Fire Chief John Donnelly. “If you wait to smell smoke, you may not be able to get out – and that’s why smoke alarms are such an important part of our safety message.”
The Red Cross aims to install 50,000 free smoke alarms in over 50 communities across the U.S. this May. The next opportunity in the DMV comes May 14th, when volunteer teams - alongside Prince George’s County Fire - plan to reach hundreds of residents in Brentwood, MD with free smoke alarms, new batteries and home fire safety info. To join in as a volunteer or learn how to make your home and family safer from home fires, please visit http://www.SoundTheAlarm.org.
For more photos from the SE DC May 7th Sound the Alarm event, please click here.