A Sense of Safety

by Brianna McClane Griff

Missoula, MT—Lexie Hickey opened her front door in Missoula to find American Red Cross volunteers on a mission to ensure her family was safe from a home fire.

“I almost never answer the door for people I don’t know because I’m home alone with my three children,” Lexie says. “I was so glad I did because three of our four smoke detectors weren’t functioning.”

Lexie is one of several homeowners across the nation that have benefited from the American Red Cross’ Home Fire Safety Campaign. Through the campaign, Red Cross volunteers are sent door-to-door in their local community to ensure that people are prepared in case disaster strikes. Every day, seven people die from a home fire, and the Red Cross aims to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25 percent by 2020.

Not only do volunteers install fire alarms and check batteries, the Home Fire Safety Campaign is an educational experience. Fire safety information is provided, such as how to create an evacuation plan, often with the help of local firefighters.

This was Lexie’s first experience with the American Red Cross, and it left a lasting impression.

“I was so delighted that it was a service that the Red Cross was providing,” she says. ”People going door to door and offering something that could be lifesaving doesn’t happen every day.”

The volunteers replaced three fire alarms for free, leaving behind information pamphlets about the new alarms that come equipped with a lifetime battery. She says that they often checked the batteries on the fire alarms, but didn’t know they weren’t functioning. Lexie didn’t realize that fire alarms needed to be replaced every five years and the family has been living in their home for eight years.

“Our own home wasn’t as safe as it could be,” she says. “I feel very relieved. It was huge help that we really, really appreciated.”

Stories from the Field

greghinojosa During the course of our work, we come across many stories about our volunteers and the people we serve that illustrate the American Red Cross’s important role in our local communities. Here is one Montana story we’d like to share with you.

Bringing a Service Member Home

Bozeman, MT— National Guard Specialist Greg Hinojosa had always looked up to his grandfather, Alton Windsor. When Greg was a kid, Windsor taught him “all the cool things” like hunting and fishing. He inspired Greg to make something of himself.

Windsor lived life on his own terms, becoming a scientist, earning a teaching degree, building his own cabin off the grid and becoming one of Montana’s first smokejumpers. A Korean War veteran, he was awarded a silver star for saving the lives of several platoon members while severely injured himself. Windsor was a hard act to follow.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do something with my life that he’d be proud of,” says Greg, who is pursuing a business degree at MSU. “I joined the National Guard to carry the torch that my granddad passed down to me.”

When Windsor died in July 2014, Greg was in the Idaho desert, training with his Scout Platoon. He was devastated. Greg learned that the Red Cross would fly him back to Montana to attend the funeral. “It was important to me to be with my family and to honor my granddad’s passing,” Greg explains.

Greg remembers getting on the plane and being met with applause from the passengers and crew. “I felt they were clapping for my granddad,” he says. “It was a moving moment.”    

Greg is grateful for the Red Cross for helping him at a difficult time. “This is one of many services that the Red Cross provides to active service members. I am very thankful for that support.”  

To learn more, visit redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families

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