Last year, 79 people in South Carolina lost their lives in home fires. In just minutes a family can lose everything, from their belongings to their home, and most tragically, a loved one. Home fires occur more often than most people realize; in South Carolina, the Red Cross responds to requests from local fire departments every 3.9 hours to come to the aid of victims affected by home fires.
The American Red Cross, along with its partners, including the South Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal, the South Carolina Firefighters Association, and local fire departments, is announcing a home fire preparedness initiative to save lives, reduce injuries, and preserve property. Together, they will be keeping families safe across South Carolina by installing 50,000 smoke alarms over the next two years and teaching people how to lessen their chances of suffering from a home fire.
“Red Cross has been a tremendous partner to our state, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the work they are doing, along with the State Fire Marshal’s office, in making sure South Carolinians have access to smoke alarms. The 50,000 smoke alarms that the Red Cross will install is a huge step, but this fantastic program will also help to bring awareness to an important issue facing our state,” said Governor Nikki Haley.
South Carolina consistently ranks within the top ten states for home fire deaths per capita and the Red Cross assists more than 7,100 people a year, 2,000 of them children, after home fires.
“Heating is the second leading cause of home fires in South Carolina and we see a spike in home fires as the weather gets colder,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region. “Home fire safety, especially heading into the most fire-prone time of the year, is a key preparedness component for families across our state.”
South Carolina has been selected as one of the few innovative home fire prevention initiatives being rolled out across the United States. The initiative, and the best practices from it, will be used as a model for communities across the country to be better prepared for, and safer from, home fires. As part of the initiative, the Red Cross, fire departments, and community groups will be canvassing neighborhoods, installing smoke alarms and educating their neighbors on how to protect themselves and their families from home homes. This builds on the more than 5,000 smoke alarms installed in South Carolina in the past twelve months, which resulted in fourteen lives being saved.
“This initiative will significantly reduce deaths and injuries due to home fires and educate our community members on what to do in case a home fire or other disaster does strike,” explained Welch.
“This comprehensive program will help people all across South Carolina be safer from home fires,” said State Fire Marshal Robert Polk. “We are proud to partner with such great and diverse organizations to meet the needs of communities throughout the state.”
To join the Red Cross, local firefighters, and others who want to give back in their community, visit RedCross.org/SC and click on Home Fire Preparedness.