Smoke alarms are first line of defense to fight fires

By Kathleen Todd for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region

American Red Cross Minnesota Region smoke alarm installation, 2015.

When Suzie Olson of Saint Paul had a recent American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign visit, she had a big surprise.

“None of my smoke alarms actually worked. While I thought I had been on top of changing the batteries, my smoke detectors were so old that the smoke alarm itself was completely nonfunctional,” Olson says.  “I thought I had been so responsible about it.”

Olson took the first step to detecting a fire and now she wants others to take action. And the Red Cross wants to ensure that every household has working smoke alarms.

Please check the alarms in your home to see if they’re working. If not, replace the batteries or the alarms. The Red Cross can help you do this. Our Home Fire Campaign makes it possible for the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms that will help save lives during home fires.

Multi-unit apartment building fire, Robbinsdale, MN, 2016. Photo by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

The American Red Cross responds on average 60,000 disasters each year in the United Sates – and the vast majority of these are home fires. Since 2014, the Red Cross, in partnership with fire departments and other local groups, has visited homes and installed over a million free smoke alarms nationwide. Through these efforts, the Red Cross has saved over 250 lives.

In 2016, 43 Minnesotans lost their lives in fires. In 33 percent of the residential casualties, smoke alarms were absent or non-operating.

To request a smoke alarm installation for your home, community members can call 612-871-7676 or visit getasmokealarm.org. Appointments typically take 20-30 minutes.

Minnesota fire statistics provided by Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Sound the Alarm with the Red Cross

Most fire deaths are preventable. One major tool for prevention is a working smoke alarm. Yet, last year in Minnesota seven people died in fires in homes without working smoke alarms. And fire deaths are up 36 percent over this same time last year. To reduce home fire deaths and injuries volunteers and partners with the American Red Cross Minnesota Region will participate in Sound the Alarm.

“We need the public’s help to keep the number of fire deaths from climbing.” Bruce West, Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Between September 23 and October 15, 2017, the American Red Cross will install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 high-risk neighborhoods nationwide. During this period, the Red Cross will install its one-millionth free smoke alarm. This includes installing 1,525 alarms in the Minnesota Region of the American Red Cross. This surge expands the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014. Since then, the Red Cross and its partners have made 368,000 households safer through smoke alarm installation.

“Having those smoke alarms was a blessing… we probably would have burned to death.” Crystal Parkinson, a home fire survivor thanks to a smoke alarm installed by Red Cross volunteers

Already the smoke alarms have saved 258 lives in the country. In the Minnesota Region, the Red Cross and partners have made 3,283 homes safer through installation of nearly 10,000 free smoke alarms. To further this effort, the Red Cross is asking people in the Minnesota Region to support Sound the Alarm home fire safety events this fall.

“This million-alarm milestone will focus the nation on the importance of having working smoke alarms in homes.” Phil Hansen, CEO of the American Red Cross Minnesota Region

Installation events will happen in 7 locations, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Melrose, Goodhue, Rochester and McLeod County in Minnesota, and in Superior, Wisconsin. People can volunteer to install free smoke alarms in local communities. They also can raise money, or make a donation to support Sound the Alarm. Learn more today. Watch the new Sound the Alarm video and then visit soundthealarm.org/mn.

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross. Minnesota fire statistics provided by Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Top reason to get involved in Red Cross Home Fire Campaign

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Phil Hansen with Bea, 90, at her home in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Story and photo by Kaylee Beevers/American Red Cross Intern

On April 23, Phil Hansen, the senior executive for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region, had the opportunity to participate in Home Fire Campaign activities in St. Cloud. His experience was mostly what he expected: teams made up of Red Cross volunteers and St. Cloud firefighters installed smoke alarms. But this was his first time actually doing installation outreach in homes. “I was really surprised by the number of homes that had inadequate smoke alarms or didn’t have any at all. It was great for us to come in and help make these installations for people who needed it most.” The reason why Phil made the trip to St. Cloud is because he truly believes in what these installations are doing: saving lives. As of April 2016, Red Cross installed smoke alarms have saved more than 90 lives across the country. For Phil, the best part about making home visits was meeting gracious people and seeing their faces shine with thankfulness after sharing with them a lifesaving gift. “For the future, we plan to see this program grow throughout the country due to the number of lives saved.” One challenge, he says, is the number of volunteers and partners currently participating. “We have great groups going out to serve their communities, but we need more.” And the top reason to get involved: “It’s a great reward knowing you’ve impacted and changed lives within your community.”

Learn more about the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

These internet stars can do it in two minutes – can you?

What’s Trending has teamed up with the American Red Cross and your favorite social media celebs to help save lives.

By Christine Linnell, What’s Trending

Shira Lazar and Bart Baker can totally do it in two minutes. Destorm Power couldn’t do it back in high school, but by college he was doing it like a pro. GloZell? Under two minutes.

It’s not what it sounds like, but we’re glad we’ve got your attention.

The American Red Cross is reaching out to the online community and partnering with What’s Trending, iHeart Media, the Charity Network and the Reveal Project to launch #2Steps2Minutes, a campaign to promote home fire safety and help reduce deaths and injuries associated with home fires by 25%.

The two steps are simple: 1) practice your home fire drill until you can get out the door in less than two minutes, and 2) check your smoke alarms each month to see if the batteries need replacing.

It’s common sense stuff, but it could be the difference between life or death. On average, 7 people die every day and 36 are injured from a home fire. Having a working fire alarm alone can reduce your chances of death or injury by 50%

Here to remind you to stay prepared are some of your favorite social media stars and friends of What’s Trending. Directed by the Brothers Riedell, this PSA features Glozell Green, Frankie Grande, Bart Baker, Shira Lazar, Brodie Smith, Brittany Furlan, Destorm Power, Twan Kuyper, comedy duo Gaby Dunn and Alison Raskin, Teni Panosian, Amanda Cerny, 80fitz, Trisha Hershberger and Nick Riedell.

And there’s a lot more to come – throughout the campaign, celebrities and influencers will be supporting the Red Cross through your favorite social media platforms, special merch, exclusive auction items and one-of-a-kind experiences, all benefitting the non-profit.

It culminates with the fourth annual What’s Trending Tube-A-Thon fundraising event, taking place in April at the iHeart Theater in Burbank. Stay tuned for updates – you won’t want to miss it!

For more information about the campaign, visit RedCross.org/2steps2minutes.

Also, check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes video featuring bloopers and off-camera moments from your favorite stars!

This story is posted with permission. The original post was published on What's Trending

Every home fire death breaks a heart

HFCv2_763x260This past weekend there were two home fire deaths in Minnesota. One was a woman 25 years old and the other was a girl 5 years old. These sad and tragic deaths bring the number of home fire deaths to 46 this year in Minnesota. And like the people closest to these disasters, we feel our heart break each time we learn of a home fire death, and we especially feel the heart ache when Red Cross volunteers are responding to these disasters, helping the survivors rebuild their lives.

We do not know details about how the most recent home fires started. But we encourage everyone to  practice home fire safety, especially during the busy holiday season. Here are several resources that will get you started:

Icon PreparednessOne thing we’re passionate about is making sure that every household has working smoke alarms. Please check the alarms in your home to see if they’re working. If not, replace the batteries or the alarms. We can help you do this. Our Home Fire Campaign makes it possible for the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms that will help save lives during home fires.

Remember: if a fire starts in your home get out to safety, and then dial 9-1-1 for emergency assistance.

Families safer in Plainview after smoke alarm installation

Story and photos by Richard Underdahl-Peirce, Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross and the Plainview Fire Department in Minnesota worked together to install more than 300 smoke alarms on September 19, 2015. Photo credit: Richard Underdahl-Peirce/American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross and the Plainview Fire Department worked together to install more than 300 smoke alarms on September 19, 2015.

On a crisp and sunny Saturday morning, thirty-eight volunteers spread out across Plainview, Minnesota, to install more than 300 smoke alarms in family homes. On the previous Saturday, volunteers had canvassed around 400 homes in the community to identify where new fire detectors should be added or old ones replaced. Now, on September 19, 2015, firefighters, community and American Red Cross volunteers went in teams of three to five to install the new fire alarms and to give home safety materials concerning home fire prevention and escape planning as part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

Jake and Bobbie Sievers, and their son (r), survived a house fire in Plainview, MN, in 2014. Photo credit: Richard Underdahl-Peirce/American Red Cross.
On hand for the Home Fire Campaign, Jake and Bobbie Sievers, and their son (r), survived a house fire in Plainview, MN, in 2014.

As the volunteers gathered at the Plainview Fire Department, the Sievers family was there to greet and thank them for the Red Cross help they received following a home fire disaster. A year ago Bobbie and Jake, and their young son, escaped from a fire that damaged the front of their house and up into the rafters. Red Cross volunteers responded, providing food and clothing for humanitarian relief after the disaster. Finally, last December, they moved back home with much appreciation for the assistance they had received from local American Red Cross volunteers. The Sievers family was a concrete reminder to the volunteers of the importance of what they were doing this day.

Red Cross volunteer Donny Schreibo installs a smoke alarm in Plainview, MN, on September 19, 2015.
Red Cross volunteer Donny Schreibo installs a smoke alarm during the Home Fire Campaign in Plainview, MN, on September 19, 2015.

Volunteers came from Plainview and neighboring communities. Some, like Bev Holzheu, from Zumbrota, also had helped in the pre-canvassing in Lake City, where home safety materials and smoke alarms were given out by Red Cross volunteers. Others, like Michael Burgdorf, were long-time residents of Plainview and fire department volunteers as well.

Residents receiving the smoke alarms ranged from young parents to senior citizens. Sarah Hassig, a mother with young children, had three new smoke alarms installed in the home where they have lived for ten years. James Haley, a twenty year home owner and proud grandparent, also had three new smoke alarms installed. His three dogs delighted in being petted by the visitors – one of the side benefits of being a Red Cross Home Fire Campaign volunteer!

Homeowner Sarah Hassig received Red Cross home fire safety materials and also had 3 smoke alarms installed during the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign outreach in Plainview, MN, on September 19, 2015. Photo credit: Richard Underdahl-Peirce.
Sarah Hassig received home fire safety materials and had 3 smoke alarms installed during the Home Fire Campaign in Plainview, MN, on September 19, 2015.

The morning passed quickly, and the volunteers enjoyed rolls provided by the local Kwik Trip, plus water and pop on their return to the fire department. But most of all they left with the thanks of dozens of residents, and the satisfaction of improving the safety of the homes of so many men, women and children.

Super awesome: an additional 143 smoke alarms were installed on Sunday and during the following week! To learn more about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, click hereTo get involved, contact your local Red Cross

Awesome home fire preparedness day in Lake City, Minnesota

Home Fire Preparedness Campaign volunteers, Lake City, MN, April 18, 2015
Home Fire Preparedness Campaign volunteers, Lake City, MN, April 18, 2015

We had an awesome day in Lake City, Minnesota, on Saturday, April 18, installing smoke alarms and talking fire safety.  As part of the national American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, a local team of 25 Red Cross volunteers and volunteer partners canvassed 400 homes the previous week and gathered 115 smoke alarm installation requests. Three mobile home parks and a small area on the south side of the town were the designated areas. Then, this past weekend, 40 volunteers returned to homes that had no answer the week before, and to those with scheduled requests and installed smoke alarms. The teams installed a total of 164 alarms!! Volunteers also provided safety information, helped with creating fire escape plans, and handed out a tornado safety checklist. It was a great day and everyone did an amazing job.

Smoke alarm installation during Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, Lake City, MN, April 18, 2015
Smoke alarm installation during Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, Lake City, MN, April 18, 2015

Volunteers were made up of Red Cross volunteers, firefighters, Kiwanis members, and local community members. We had three Spanish language speakers who used their talent helping interpret for a few families. Everyone met at 8:30 a.m. for coffee, rolls, and training. Lake City’s fire chief Jeff Diepenbrock, and his wife Julie, came out Saturday to help install alarms. Jeff started off the day thanking the volunteers for their dedication and time. He also talked about fire safety and the importance of smoke alarms. Everyone set out about 9 a.m. and finished around noon. When everyone returned, it was great to hear some of the appreciation stories that families told where alarms were installed.

I am soooo thankful for the group of Red Cross volunteers in my areas!! This could not have been attempted, and become such a success, if it were not for the support of those who continue to be there when they can to lend a hand! Our smoke alarm installation event coordinators for the Lake City were Shar Yorde and Ann Nibbe who put in a lot of hours to make this happen.  A few of my experienced smoke alarm installation event volunteers from Winona, including Joe Whetstone, Mike Papke and Beth Lindholm from Winona, were instrumental in organizing the Lake City event and keeping things on track. Thank you to everyone who came out for this awesome day!! The Red Cross and our community are lucky to have you 🙂

Post and photos by Dianne Thompson, Disaster Program Specialist, American Red Cross serving Southeast Minnesota. The American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign seeks to reduce home fire deaths by 25 percent in five years. To learn more, click here.