By Peg Taylor, Red Cross Volunteer
Paula Metz and her family know firsthand the value of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.
Their Roseville, Calif. home caught fire in August, 2021.
When the fire happened, the family of five, including one person who uses a walker, had to evacuate. They were able to respond quickly and evacuate safely due to the knowledge and evacuation planning provided them by the Red Cross.
“The fire happened so quickly. Having the Red Cross training was helpful. I felt a sense of readiness,” said Metz.
“Before, I wouldn’t have thought about my cars, full of gasoline, as being accelerants. One of the first things we did when we got out was to get our cars out of the driveway and away from the house. I’m now more aware of these things.”
“A month prior to the fire, the Red Cross did a telephone interview to educate us on fire preparedness, how to prepare an evacuation plan, how to use fire extinguishers, how to make sure our smoke alarms were working,” said Metz. “They also sent a package of information for me to read.”
Home fires are the most frequent and deadliest disaster in the United States. Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the U.S. responds to a fire somewhere in the nation, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On average seven people die each day from these fires and 36 people are injured.
When a home fire happens, those inside often have less than two minutes to get out safely.
To reduce the high number of home fire fatalities and injuries, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014. The program educates people about home fire safety, helps them create customized evacuation plans, and provides installation of free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for home fires.
So far, more than 1,200 lives have been saved in the U.S. as a direct result of the Home Fire Campaign. Seven of those, including the Metz family, live in the California Gold Country Region of the Red Cross.
Paula and her family are thankful they took the time to participate virtually in the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. “I hope others check out Red Cross’ fire preparedness information,” she said.
For more information on the Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign, to donate to the Red Cross, or to join thousands of volunteers across the country who come to the aid of people impacted by home fires, visit redcross.org.