Red Cross Home Fire Safety Program Comes to Barnegat

Oct 12, 2016
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

More than 270 residents in the Pinewood Estates and Brighton at Barnegat mobile home communities have free, new smoke alarms thanks to the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which seeks to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires.

On Oct. 8, numerous teams consisting of Red Cross staffers, Barnegat firefighters and other volunteers went house to house to offer the services.

“We were able to reach out to around 500 homeowners,” said Paul Gass, Red Cross regional preparedeness manager. “We outfitted 279 homes with smoke alarms. The batteries are good for 10 years.”

Gass said that in most instances, the alarms that were replaced had malfunctioned.

“Many of them were broken,” he said. “In all instances, we tested to make sure that alarms were working.”

According to literature handed out by the Red Cross, “Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign aims to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next few years. The Red Cross and thousands of campaign partners have helped save numerous lives and installed more than a quarter of a million smoke alarms in homes all across the country since the campaign launched in October of 2014. The Red Cross partners with fire departments and community groups across the country to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encourage everyone to practice their fire escape plans.”

Kristee Lauro, Red Cross disaster program manager in Ocean County, added, “Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half, so we’re joining with groups from across our community to install smoke alarms,” said. “We also will be teaching people how to be safe from home fire.”

Gass said the campaign reached out to age-restricted development such as the two mobile home communities because there could be residents with physical limitations, such as Debbie McCarthy of Brighton.

“I can’t climb a ladder and I have problems with my arms,” she said. “I really appreciate how the Red Cross and our community are doing what they can to help us.”

Christopher Pena, Red Cross volunteer, said homeowners often overlook the importance of having a clear escape route. He said home fire plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.

“You may only have two minutes to escape when a fire occurs, but most people mistakenly believe they have more than twice as long to get out,” said Pena, who led a team canvassing homes in Pinewood. “This is an educational outreach program, and we left materials for the homeowner. Included were worksheets for  individuals or families to prepare and organize your two-minute drill.”

For homeowners who were not available, canvassers left information on how they could request a follow-up visit by logging on to Jersey.

“This was a very successful program,” said Michelle Woodruff, president of Manufactured Homeowners Association at Brighton. “I was pleased that the teams were well received and that the homeowners realized how important fire safety is. I think now we’re going to have a good working relationship with the Red Cross.”

— Eric Englund

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