Editor’s note: Carol’s story originally appeared on the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region blog on March 17, 2017. We’ve included a part of her interview, below, written by Chris Peralta.
In the first quarter of 2017, Red Cross home fire responses tripled. Every day, home fires kill more people than natural disasters, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. Reading stories like Carol’s keep us inspired and show the importance of fire safety training:
It was the middle of the night when Carol felt someone shaking her as she slept. When she turned to look – no one was there.
Stirred, she decided to go check on her son, Reggie. When she opened his bedroom door, it was a terrifying sight: a fire was completely surrounding him in his bed.
As scary as the situation was, it was one Carol had prepared for. She was trained by the Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania on how to respond to emergencies. As a teacher, she had even taught students what to do if a fire broke out. For her, it was second nature.
“I froze sometimes,” Carol said, recalling moments when the adrenaline rush almost paralyzed her. “But I had to be strong for my son.”
The fire department quickly arrived and contained the blaze, which was limited to Reggie’s bedroom. The Red Cross was also called to help. Within ten minutes, a volunteer arrived. “We were frightened. We were scared. They gave us courage, hope, peace,” Carol said.
In an ongoing effort to reduce death and injury from home fires, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is hosting a series of installation and fire safety events across the country. Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners, canvass high-risk neighborhoods, installing free smoke alarms, replacing batteries in existing alarms and helping families create escape plans. Since 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has saved at least 215 lives and installed more than more than 744,000 smoke alarms in more than 9,400 cities and towns across the United States.
Learn how you can help us Sound the Alarm to #EndHomeFires this fall.
The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from corporate partners and the hundreds of local partner organizations and volunteers nationwide. Our corporate partners include: Almost Family, Energy Transfer Partners, Nationwide and UGI.