Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Seven people in one family is exactly the number saved in March by the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, begun in 2014 to save children and the elderly who disproportionately lose the lives in home fires.
At 3:24 a.m. on March 27, the beeping of one of smoke alarms awoke Nakia Bell who opened her bedroom door to smoke and quickly evacuated her family without injury. Within minutes, their entire home was lost to an electrical fire.
“We’re proud to say that the 258 lives saved by the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign nationwide, includes seven members of the Bell family of LaGrange,” said Terri Badour, Georgia’s Red Cross CEO. “Working with local volunteers and partners, we’re making a meaningful difference here.”
In the past year, more than 13,700 new smoke alarms were installed in homes across the state through the campaign. Three smoke alarms were installed in the Bell’s home on Oct. 15 as part of the Red Cross and LaGrange Fire Department’s partnership to reduce fire deaths and injuries through fire safety education and the installation of free smoke alarms in homes that need them.
In a 12-month period (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017) that set records for severe and devastating weather, the American Red Cross of Georgia helped more than 6,500 families (17,500 people) impacted by disasters, primarily home fires but also wild fires, thunderstorms, tropical weather, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, transportation incidents and more.
In metro Atlanta alone, some six families a day turned to the Red Cross for help with their emergency needs for food, clothing, shelter, health and mental health support and recovery guidance.
At fiscal year-end (June 30), the Red Cross prepared thousands of Georgians for emergencies with life-saving health and safety training, information resources and an ongoing Home Fire Campaign that is reducing fire deaths and injuries statewide. Working with community partners, volunteers installed smoke alarms in vulnerable neighborhoods and made 5,200 households safer by helping them create home fire escape plans. They also taught more than 9,000 children how to prepare for emergencies through The Pillowcase Project.
In the South Georgia Region this fiscal year, more than 600 alarms were installed making 1,500 homes safer and 2,250 youth more prepared to face an emergency.
The American Red Cross of South Georgia assisted nearly 300 families who suffered loss from home fires, tornado damage and flood damage. The chapter opened shelters for Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and the January tornadoes and sheltered more than 2,200 residents.
More than 1,300 people were trained in preparedness health and safety classes. More than 250 military members and families were helped through the Service to Armed Forces Program where the Red Cross is on site at Moody Air Force Base.
Georgia Disaster Response Highlights
Red Cross volunteers responded around the clock to 2,900 home and apartment fires – more than any other Red Cross region in the country.
The Red Cross provided a safe haven for neighbors in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Workers operated 45 shelters and evacuation centers statewide and provided:
•17,000 overnight stays
•165,000 meals and snacks
•69,000 bulk relief supplies, clean-up kits and personal hygiene items
•4,800 health and mental health contacts
Dozens of disaster volunteers rushed to help when record-breaking tornadoes that ripped across 17 South Georgia counties in January, resulting in multiple deaths, dozens of injuries and widespread damage. Working closely with emergency and community partners, the Red Cross helped to provide:
•920 overnight stays in 4 shelters
•54,250 meals and snacks
•28,600 relief items including hygiene kits and bulk supplies (shovels, rakes, tarps, work gloves, tote bins, trash bags, etc.)
•4,000 health and mental health contacts
“This was a year of seemingly endless disasters in Georgia and across the country,” said Georgia Red Cross disaster officer Chris Baker. “I’m incredibly grateful to our dedicated disaster volunteers who helped neighbors through their darkest days with food to eat, a safe place to stay and recovery support. There wouldn’t be a Red Cross to turn to without them.”
Sound The Alarm; Save A Life
Efforts continue this fall with the largest-ever campaign to Sound the Alarm, Save a Life. On Sept. 30, Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners, will install free smoke alarms in Atlanta, Macon and Augusta and help families create escape plans.
The Red Cross is also asking that every household in America take two simple steps that can help to save lives from home fires: practice fire drills at home and check smoke alarms monthly. Every household should create a fire escape plan and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms.
Sound the Alarm, Save a Life installation and fire safety events will take place between Sept. 23 and Oct. 14 in more than 100 communities across the country including Metro Atlanta, Macon and Augusta. Behind all of these efforts is the possibility to save another life. For more information and ways you can help, visit: redcross.org/soundthealarmga.
How You Can Help
The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
Call the South Georgia Operations Office at (229) 242-7404 for information on volunteering.