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LAS VEGAS (Oct. 18, 2022) — A smoke alarm warning allowed Cherise Coleman and her family to escape unharmed from a fire in their North Las Vegas home. The American Red Cross of Southern Nevada had installed the alarm a few years ago as part of its Sound the Alarm program that installs free smoke alarms in the community.
“The American Red Cross saved my life,” Ms. Coleman said. “Their volunteers came by a few years ago and inspected by smoke alarms, replaced all the batteries, and installed a couple more. I didn’t even know the Red Cross did that. And it was the alarm they installed by my garage that went off warning us.”
And when the worst happens, Red Cross volunteers are there too.
Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers responded to Ms. Coleman’s home Sept. 24 about 2 a.m. to assist her and six family members displaced by the fire and got them a place to sleep. “Let me tell you how phenomenal the Red Cross is,” Ms. Coleman said. “They made sure we were in a hotel and had everything we needed. Then the next day, they called to check on us.”
Any resident interested in fire prevention assistance can visit SoundTheAlarm.org/Nevada to schedule an appointment for a free smoke alarm installation. During the 20-minute home visit, Red Cross volunteers will also share information on home fires, how to prevent them, what to do if a fire starts, and how to create an escape plan. “I would tell anyone, take the 20 minutes, and have the Red Cross come by – it could save your life. I know it saved mine,” Ms. Coleman said.
“Most people don’t realize they only have two minutes to escape a home fire, and smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years,” said Rachel Flanigan, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter. “Taking action with this knowledge can be the difference between survival and tragedy, as Cherise experienced.”
Red Cross volunteers and staff often respond to home fires, which are the nation’s most frequent disaster, according to Flanigan. “Home fires can leave a family devastated and in need of immediate assistance,” she said. “Our Disaster Action Team members provide emotional support, access to financial assistance, and valuable information to help families begin to recover. Last year in Clark County, Red Cross staff and volunteers helped more than 1,200 people whose homes were destroyed or damaged by fire.”
Installing smoke alarms and providing fire prevention information is a critical part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. Since launching in October 2014, the campaign has saved some 1,393 lives nationwide by helping families create escape plans, installing free smoke alarms, and providing education about fire safety.
“You must be proactive not reactive,” stressed Ms. Coleman after her eye-opening experience. “Having the Red Cross come over and install smoke alarms is proactive. If you are just reactive, you can lose your life. You have got to make time for the Red Cross. They can save your life.”
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members, and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.