For most people, a smoke alarm is a common, seldom-used safety feature that is often forgotten. But according to the National Fire Prevention Association, three out of five home fire deaths happen in homes without properly working smoke alarms—more than 900 people each year.
On September 27, Union College’s “Keep Calm and Install One” event will seek to help educate residents and install free smoke detectors in two of Lincoln’s neighborhoods with the most property fires.
The event, organized by the Union College Red Cross Club, will kick off National Fire Prevention month in October. They hope to cover 1,000 homes that day.
“Responding to house fires where people lose everything is heartbreaking enough, but the possibility of somebody losing their life over not having a smoke alarm, something we take for granted, drives me to get out there,” said Tyler Anderson, a staff member in Union’s International Rescue and Relief Program and one of the club’s sponsors. “We would like to see 150 volunteers go out into the Lincoln community, installing smoke alarms and educating about fire preparedness and safety. Even if a fire alarm only gives them a few extra seconds to get out of the house, I feel that we have given them a fighting chance.”
Each house will also receive a fire education kit containing information about how to prevent fires and create a fire evacuation plan for the whole family.
The Red Cross Club worked with Lincoln Fire and Rescue to identify two Lincoln neighborhoods that experience a significant number of house fires—one immediately east of Union College, and one just north of “O” Street between 22nd and 27th Streets. LFR also donated the tools for volunteers to use to install the smoke alarms. In addition, the Cornhusker Chapter of the American Red Cross donated the smoke alarms, Home Depot donated buckets and step ladders, and Sam’s Club donated water for the volunteers.
Union College’s International Rescue and Relief Program is a baccalaureate degree program that combines survival, rescue, emergency medical and disaster response training into a unique degree that prepares students for careers in health care, public safety and emergency management.
Part of the IRR curriculum includes American Red Cross courses in Shelter Operations and Disaster Services Overview. In order to put those skills to work in a practical way and build connections with the Lincoln community, IRR faculty formed the Union College Red Cross Club in 2013 as part of the Cornhusker Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Members of the Red Cross Club are on call one week a month to provide support for victims and emergency responders of fires and other local emergencies. Students and faculty have also assisted the Red Cross with victim care and damage assessment in the aftermath of several tornados around Nebraska.
Volunteers will gather at Union College in front of the IRR building located just off Prescott Street at 1:00 p.m. and spend the afternoon installing smoke detectors.
If you would like to know more about being a part of the event, contact Tyler Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.486.2980.
By Natalie Bruzon, student writer