A neighborhood in Euclid is measurably safer today, after volunteers from the American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter teamed up with employees from Lincoln Electric and the Euclid Fire Department to educate, check smoke alarms, replace old batteries, and install new alarms where needed.
It was the largest one-day installation event in the history of the Northeast Ohio Region.
Part of the Red Cross Operation Save-A-Life program, the Euclid Fire Safety Walk targeted homes on five streets west and north of Euclid High School on E. 222nd Street. 10 teams of volunteers fanned out across the neighborhood to go door-to-door, sharing fire safety information with nearly 700 households.
The enthusiastic volunteers were briefed by John Gareis, Regional Training Coordinator for the Northeast Ohio region of the Red Cross. Leading the dozens of volunteers from Lincoln Electric was CEO, Chris Mapes, who offered a prayer prior to the start of the walk, as volunteers gathered at the Euclid Fire Department. Team leaders were chosen, team members were assigned, and the volunteers were dispatched, many working for several hours to make sure every house in the neighborhood was covered.
“Because smoke alarms cut the risk of death from fire in half, the efforts of the volunteers will help prevent human suffering,” according to Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region. Mike also joined volunteers, asking residents to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills with their families.
Chris and Mike both worked diligently to determine fire safety needs and install smoke alarms when needed. After seeing a group of children playing on Westport Ave., Chris traveled to the nearest Dairy Queen and bought Dilly Bars, taking them back to the kids who were grateful for the cool treats on a warm, sunny summer day.
Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. But a recent national survey shows more than 60% of Americans mistakenly believe they have five minutes or more to get out of a burning home. And nearly 20% think they have at least 10 minutes to escape. The poll also shows fewer than one in five families with children have actually practiced a home fire drill, and that nearly 70% of parents think their children would know what to do or how to escape a burning home with little help. Those are some of the potentially deadly myths that were dispelled during the Fire Safety Walk.
By the end of the day, 354 new smoke alarms had been installed, and many more existing alarms had fresh batteries, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers from the Red Cross and Lincoln Electric.
The goal for fiscal year 2016 is to install 10,000 smoke detectors in the 22 county Northeast Ohio region, and we’re right on target: by the end of September (the end of the first quarter of FY ’16) 2,585 smoke alarms had been installed.
If you would like to volunteer, or learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.