American Red Cross of Western Maryland
Program: Home Fire Campaign
Grant amount: $7,500
The American Red Cross of Western Maryland serves five counties, including Washington, Frederick, Alleghany, Garrett and Carroll. Their mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors through the many services they provide for disasters, health and safety, biomedical and Armed Forces.
The Community Foundation granted the Red Cross $7,500 for their Home Fire Campaign, which focuses on preparation, response and recovery. Preparation includes the installation of free smoke alarms and education for those families receiving them. Response is assisting fire victims who have lost everything by furnishing them with clothing, food and shelter. Recovery provides financial assistance and mental health support to the families trying to put their lives back together.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 60% of home fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke alarm or working smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm increases an individual’s chances of surviving a home fire by 50%.
The Red Cross plans to install 1,680 smoke alarms across all five counties during the Home Fire Campaign with 600 of those in Washington County. They try to focus on families most at-risk and older or lower income homes that lack smoke alarms.
Unfortunately, lower income families do not always have the means to purchase smoke alarms or the time to install them, as many work multiple jobs. “Some of these families are living pay check to pay check. They could be one disaster away from potential homelessness,” said Executive Director Eric Anderson. “However, fires don’t discriminate, so we try to help everyone.”
The Home Fire Program runs year-round, but during the month of April, The Red Cross has the “Sound the Alarm” Campaign, where they really push their prepare and prevention messages. During this time, they typically install 500-700 smoke alarms within a few days.
The Red Cross provides numerous opportunities for community members to sign up for smoke alarms at various events, but anyone can call their local chapter at any time to request a smoke alarm installation in their home.