On Saturday morning, April 27, 2019 local volunteers, firefighters, and Red Cross staff began to gather at Columbus Park in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to kick off another successful Sound the Alarm event. Among many of the volunteers and firefighters in attendance at the event were many supporting partners including Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford, Alderman Chris Taliaferro of the 29th Ward, and volunteer teams from local organizations like AllState.
“We’re here because this is something we truly care about… Because I can’t say it enough, smoke alarms save lives” said Fire Commissioner Ford. The Red Cross Sound the Alarm series is part of the larger Home Fire Campaign initiative to mitigate the risk of fatalities in home fires. On average, 7 lives are lost every day to home fires. Most of these fatalities include small children and the elderly.
Many people believe that they have at least 5 minutes to escape their home in the event of a fire. In reality, that time is only about 2 minutes. Commissioner Ford says that “Thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross, hundreds of people will have that extra time if a fire does break out. That extra time is provided by a working smoke alarm.”
Red Cross CEO Celena Roldán described how Sound The Alarm had a direct impact on the lives of a grandmother and her grandson in the Austin neighborhood just a few short years ago in December 2016. “I am proud to say they received a free Red Cross smoke alarm installation, coupled with Home Fire safety education. They experienced a home fire and escaped safely, ” says Roldán.
Volunteers for Sound the Alarm started the day with a quick training on how to install fire alarms in local homes around the Austin neighborhood. As the morning rain started to freeze and turn to snow, the Red Cross organized teams of volunteers to go out and start the installations. Hundreds of appointments had been collected in the previous weeks of local residents asking for a smoke alarm. “It may seem simple to knock on someone’s door. It may seem simple to go out and install a smoke alarm in someone’s home… But that’s nearly 5,500 residents [in the Austin neighborhood] that are affected [by Sound the Alarm].” said Alderman Taliaferro.
At the end of the day, there were 739 smoke alarms installed and 243 homes were made safer in Chicago this Saturday. This adds to the 684,260 households made safer by the Home Fire Campaign since it began in 2014.
There are many ways to get involved with the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign in your neighborhood. Visit www.redcross.org/chicago to learn more about how to prepare your home to prevent, respond to, and recover after a home fire. You can also make a donation or join the Red Cross volunteers to Sound the Alarm and save a life!
Written by Red Cross communications volunteer Lexi Wyrick.