By Laura Purcell, Blogger/Writer Volunteer
Home fires claim seven lives every day in the United States, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. Each year, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms, creates escape plans, and shares fire safety information as part of their Sound the Alarm events.
American Red Cross of Georgia volunteer and board member, Bryan Payne, has been involved with the Sound the Alarm campaign since 2017. Bryan, his wife, and their two sons have participated in nine different installation events.
“Sound the Alarm is an amazing way to see the Red Cross mission up close,” Payne said. “You don’t often have an opportunity to go into someone’s home and offer them something for free that could save their life.”
Over the years, Payne has completed many memorable installations. Early on, he visited the home of a gentleman in his 80’s. The house was older, heated with a space heater, and there were articles, newspapers, and other flammable materials scattered around the home. The homeowner claimed to have a smoke detector but when Payne inspected it, there were no batteries. Payne installed four new smoke detectors and made sure the homeowner had a plan in place to test and replace the batteries in the future.
Payne also recalled a visit to a young family with four kids. This family thought they were protected by a smoke detector, but an inspection found that the batteries were corroded. Payne also discovered that the children believed the best thing to do in case of a fire was to go into their room and hide. He educated them on a proper escape plan and installed three new smoke detectors in the home.
“It is something that you wish you could do for more people,” Payne said. “It’s a great way to spend half a day and it is something that everyone we’ve ever worked with has really enjoyed. You walk out and know that this person has an additional layer of protection in their home for the next 10 years.”
Payne also serves on the Greater Atlanta Red Cross Board of Directors where he acts as the Board Champion for the Sound the Alarm campaign. In this position, he is responsible for advocating for and promoting the campaign to his fellow board members, encouraging their participation, and spearheading initiatives to raise funds in support of the event. Payne is also a member of the Philanthropy Committee and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.
The American Red Cross of Georgia is looking for volunteers for their upcoming Sound the Alarm events between April 15-May 6. For more information on how to get involved, please click here.