Red Cross goal: Reduce deaths, injuries from home fires

Staff report

SIDNEY – Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire in the United States. It’s a deeply unsettling fact that reaches even deeper when the death occurs close to home, as it did on Thanksgiving morning in Jackson Center. An early morning fire trapped a woman in her home, where she was overcome by smoke and died at the scene. The fire also killed her three dogs and one cat, and sent another resident to the hospital.

With the weather just beginning to turn cold, and the home fire season just beginning, the American Red Cross is working to help assure that deaths and injuries from home fires in the Northern Miami Valley are prevented to the greatest extent possible. It’s doing so by installing free smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries in any home in the region. All area residents have to do is call the nearest Red Cross chapter to schedule an appointment: Greenville 937-548-1002; Springfield 937-399-3872; Sidney 937-492-6151; Troy 937-332-1414.

Research shows the increase in home fire deaths and injuries are a result of two factors:

One, as a result of modern synthetic fabrics and other factors, homes today burn as much as eight times faster than homes did 30 years ago. And, two, the fires also produce thicker, denser smoke that is filled with carbon monoxide, cyanide and other toxins, which is the most common cause of death.

However, research also shows that having working smoke alarms in a home increases the chances the chances of survival by 50 percent. The reason is simple: Time. With fires burning so much faster and hotter, occupants have just two to three minutes to escape a home once a fire starts. That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s not, especially while dealing with blinding, toxic smoke. Smoke alarms—especially when combined with an escape plan and knowing what to do once they go off—really do save lives.

“The best way to escape a home fire is to know the home is on fire,” says Lynne Gump, executive director of the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross, “and the best way to know if there is a fire is to have a working smoke alarm. With homes today burning so much faster and hotter, in many cases, you have less than two minutes to escape your home once it catches on fire. That may sound like a lot of time, but it’s not. Smoke alarms give you extra time and increase your chance of survival by 50 percent.”

The Red Cross has installed more than 600 free smoke alarms in the six Northern Miami Valley counties so far this year and volunteers are ready to install that many more. Again, all Shelby County residents have to do is call the Sidney office 937-492-6151 during business hours or can go online at and complete an application. Do it for your family. Do it today. Do it to make your home, your community, a safer place to live.

Staff report