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 who 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.”