1 minute readHome Fire
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“If it wasn’t for the smoke alarms, my son would’ve never got out.”

Originally published on the Red Cross Western and Central New York blog

Margaret Phillips standing outside of her damaged home.

“The fire was very devastating. We lost pretty much everything,” Margaret Phillips said of the fire that ripped through her Whitney Point, New York, mobile home in November 2018. They had just put in new rugs that had to be ripped out after the fire, and many of the walls had to be torn down.

Fortunately, however, the only injury was a burned hand suffered by her son, Matthew, thanks to smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers a month earlier. The alarms woke Matthew up, but he was unable to escape through the fire. Thankfully, the neighbors heard the smoke alarm and were able to contact Margaret and the local fire department, who were able to rescue Matthew.

“If it wasn’t for the smoke alarms, my son probably would never have gotten out of the house,” Margaret said. “Nobody would’ve have known it was burning, because where we live is so secluded. Nobody would’ve have ever known if it wasn’t for the smoke alarms going off.”

Margaret Phillips stands inside her damaged home after the fire.

Margaret said the smoke alarms were still going off when she returned to the home four days later to begin the clean-up and recovery process. She also said the fire safety information provided by Red Cross volunteers during their installation visit helped Matthew stay safe until help arrived.

Since the Home Fire Campaign launched in 2014, volunteers in Western and Central New York have visited over 10,000 homes, making families safer by installing free smoke alarms and providing fire safety information. These efforts have saved at least 642 lives across the country, including 25–like Matthew Phillips–right here in Western and Central New York.

Learn more about Sound the Alarm by visiting redcross.org.