Two minutes may be all the time you have to escape a home fire before it’s too late.
That’s why the American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast partnered with Lompoc City Fire Department and Allen Hancock College Fire Cadets on May 7 to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety. The goal of these events are to make sure local families are prepared to get out safely with working smoke alarms — which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Volunteers set out to install as many smoke alarms as possible, and ended the day with 178 free smoke alarms installed for local Lompoc families and 78 homes made safer overall.
This was the first Red Cross event Vicky McClain participated in since recently joined the Red Cross a little more than 30 days ago after retiring from a career in healthcare. “Now it’s time for me to give back to my community,” she explained. She’s currently completing training to be a Disaster Action Team volunteer to help families after they’re displaced by a home fire, but wanted to help prevent those tragedies from happening too. That’s where Sound the Alarm events come in.
Sometimes, residents have new or working smoke alarms in their homes. When this is the case, our volunteers will provide information on the causes of home fires, what to do if a fire starts and how to create an escape plan. Bertha Alvarez, a Lompoc resident, already had working smoke alarms in her home, so Vicky took time to chat about home fire risks and emergency planning with the family and their three-month-old puppy, Goku.
The Lompoc Fire Department and future firefighters at Allan Hancock College showed up in full force to help install smoke alarms for their neighbors to make as many people safe as possible. Three firefighters took that challenge to heart. Together, Chris Martinez, Evan Nesby and Richard West installed 38 smoke alarms in more than a dozen homes, earning them the Golden Smoke Alarm of the day.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Chris Martinez (middle). Just being able to interact with our local community was so special to our firefighters. We look forward to doing it again soon!”
This wasn’t the first time Matthew and Colleen Grant volunteered at a Sound the Alarm event. Alongside their fellow Foursquare church members, their team installed 20 smoke alarms in at least eight homes. “It felt amazing to help out this way. Just to see people in need and find a direct way to help out – it’s a great feeling. Spending time talking with people made a big impact.”
Lompoc City Councilmember Jeremy Ball shared a few words with the group before heading out to install smoke alarms. He said, “you guys are doing amazing work just by stepping up. I personally know and remember just from the news throughout the years we have lost people [due to home fires] in mobile homes. This is a critical help to our community. Thank you to everyone who stepped up to volunteer to offer such a great service to Lompoc.”
These are the types of stories we hear at our Sound the Alarm events. Our Lompoc event was the second of six across Central California, and we invite you to come to the one nearest you.
Home fires are heartbreakingly common. Together, we can change lives by providing vital support in the aftermath of a fire — and we can save lives by ensuring that families have working smoke alarms and a 2-minute escape plan.