February 22, 2017
Program Spotlight: American Red Cross
Guest post by American Red Cross
Since the beginning of its fiscal year in July, the American Red Cross in Maine has responded to more than 140 home fires and assisted more than 528 people, many of whom have suffered devastating loss. Fourteen of these home fires occurred in Kennebec County. With the financial support of United Way of Kennebec Valley, the American Red Cross provided immediate disaster relief to the 39 people whose lives were turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. When disasters strike, the Red Cross responds, whether it is aiding those impacted by a home fire or sheltering those displaced by widespread events.
The Red Cross team, consisting primarily of trained volunteers, helps families meet immediate needs and stays in contact to provide financial assistance and community referrals in the months that follow a home fire. In addition, the Red Cross in Maine has taken steps to reduce home fires through a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign that asks Mainers to take two simple steps to help save lives: check or install smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home. In the third year of a five-year initiative to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires, the Red Cross installed more than 4,500 smoke alarms throughout the state.
“The Home Fire Safety campaign is focused on educating Mainers about the importance of having working smoke alarms in their home,” said April Caron, executive director of the American Red Cross in Central and Mid Coast Maine. “We have installed hundreds of alarms throughout the central and mid-coast region, but there are many homes without working smoke alarms and we want to change that.”
When a fire strikes, an individual has about two minutes to escape a burning home. A working alarm reduces the chance of dying in a fire by nearly half, and an emergency escape plan ensures a family will know the best way out of the house and where to meet once outside.
Red Cross staff and volunteers, along with members of local fire departments, are installing battery-operated smoke alarms in homes, free of charge. Residents wishing to sign up for a free home fire safety visit can visit MaineRedCross.org or call 207-874-1192 ext. 113 to schedule an appointment.
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