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Community Safety

Assisting 20 People in a Week – All Too Common for American Red Cross

Katy Warner
via Flickr

Over the past week, the American Red Cross has given aid to 23 people after house fires. But as KSMU’s Anna Thomas explains, that’s not an unusual number for the southwest region.

Nigel Holderby, regional communication officer for the southwest region of the Red Cross, says helping 20 people a week occurs on a regular basis. 

“Sadly this is a fairly normal response. We tend to respond on average between three to four times a day across our 40 counties,” Holderby said.

This week there were 10 incidents of home fires across 9 counties, making Holderby stress National Fire Safety Awareness next month.

According to the Red Cross, 65 percent of home fire deaths occur in structures with no working smoke alarm. Holderby says many cases are as simple as forgetting to change the batteries.

“I think we really do as humans need to be in a routine, we need to have some information, and we need to do things in a regularly scheduled time frame so we remember,” Holderby said.

The Red Cross is currently working on the Home Fire Initiative to talk with individuals about their home’s safety and plans in terms of a fire.

Holderby adds that part of being prepared is having a plan of what to do during an emergency, like identifying a meeting spot for the family, and also knowing what to do after.

“What would you need to show your homeownership, do you have insurance, do you have documents you would need to keep track of?”

Her advice is to store things like birth certificates in a safe, or copies at an offsite location.

Click here for more details on how to prepare your home and family in case of a fire.