Cooler weather means turning up your heat, and winter blowing in means more house fires than any other season.
Every year, the Red Cross helps families recover after losing their homes and belongings in a house fire. This weekend, more than 300 local volunteers will sound the alarm to help save lives.
It only takes a few minutes for a fire to spread throughout an entire house. Every year, a few thousand Erie families learn that devastation, but Erie Fire Chief, Guy Santone, says in the big picture, staying safe often comes down to something pretty small.
“Why wouldn’t you want something that’s in your house that can detect it?” asks Santone. “That’s the only way you’re going to get out alive is if you have a smoke detector.”
That’s why 300 American Red Cross volunteers set a goal to install 700 alarms this Saturday in an effort called, ‘Sound the Alarm’. Executive Director Pam Masi says fires are this region’s most common emergency. “Smoke alarms help save lives, limit losses because it gives people that extra two minutes warning when a fire is happening in their home.”
Volunteers will go door to door in Erie neighborhoods, asking residents if their property has smoke alarms, and if they have enough to keep the house safe. Volunteer Ann Piontkowski says it’s about “going out there, reaching as many people as we can, educating families so making sure fires don’t happen or helping in any way that we can prevent them.”
Piontkowski and other volunteers will be knocking on doors, installing alarms and talking to community members about what they can do to protect themselves. Masi says the Red Cross is handling local disasters, even before they strike. “As long as we’re making hundreds of families more safe throughout this fire season we know it’ll be a win-win.”
Volunteers will cover center city Erie area, from Holland Street east to Payne Street and from 12th Street north to Front Street. Masi tells us this is the Red Cross’ largest fire prevention effort yet. Several other chapters around the country will be holding similar events on Saturday.
Masi says she’d like this to turn into an annual event locally.