By Ashley Henyan
Emma and Iris are neighbors—in fact they live nearly directly across the street from each other. But their North Brentwood, Maryland addresses are not the only things these two women have in common. Both of their families have been impacted by home fire emergencies.
For Emma, it happened in the 1960’s - after she moved up from the South to live in Washington, DC with her sister.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was like the whole block had gone up in flames,” Emma said. “None of us were hurt, thanks to God, but I will never forget those big orange flames.”
For Iris, her family was impacted by a home fire less than one week ago.
“My daughter had an electrical fire in her home,” said Iris. “She is okay—but it’s been about a week and she still can’t get back into her house. This was very scary for all of us.”
And there is one more commonality between Emma and Iris—they both answered their front doors when a team, compiled of Red Cross volunteers and Prince George’s County Fire Department team members, knocked on their doors on Saturday May 14th—as part of Red Cross Sound the Alarm efforts to install free smoke alarms in homes, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create a home fire escape plan that gets every household member out in two minutes or less.
Emma received three free smoke alarms in her one-story home.
“I’m so happy for this—grateful, really,” said Emma. After you see one of those fires, and all your belongings burnt and being dragged out in the street, you take this seriously. I feel safer now with my new alarms.”
All the existing smoke alarms in Iris’ home were checked by the volunteer team and found to be working properly. Still, the team provide her with home fire safety info and helped to draw out a home fire escape plan – customized for her home. Plus, they provided a phone number for Iris’ daughter to call for additional Red Cross support and assistance following her recent and traumatic electrical fire.
“This is still so great,” she said. “My son lives here with me, so it’s not just my house, it is our home. And after my daughter’s horrible fire, I feel good knowing our house is okay with these functioning smoke alarms.”
Emma and Iris are not alone. Nationwide, the Red Cross responds to an emergency nearly every eight minutes. And most often, these emergencies are home fires.
Since 2014, the Red Cross has installed millions of free smoke alarms in homes. So far, these efforts have saved at least 1,275 lives. To learn more – including how to make your home and family safer from home fires – visit http://www.SoundTheAlarm.org.