Volunteers are combing fire-prone neighborhoods in Council Bluffs today, checking door-to-door on how prepared residents may be for a fire. Jill Orton, with the Loess Hills chapter of the American Red Cross, says the agency’s volunteers are canvassing several areas of town that are considered high-risk.
“We’re going to hand out fire safety information and talk to the residents about whether or not they have a working smoke detector,” Orton says. “If they need assistance with that, we’ll radio back and our partners within the fire department are going to go out and either install (a smoke detector) or give them batteries. It’s a fabulous event!”
In the past ten years, more than 230 fires occurred in the city’s high-risk neighborhoods, claiming three lives and sending 11 people to hospitals. “Single-family fires are the number-one disaster that the Red Cross responds to on a daily basis,” Orton says. “Within our region, we respond to approximately one fire a day.”
Fire is the biggest threat to families, not floods, hurricanes or tornadoes, she says, and home fires are one disaster that may be prevented when people understand how to protect their families. If residents aren’t home during today’s sweep, door hangers will be left.
The hangers, printed in both English and Spanish, provide cooking and heating tips, and highlight the importance of smoke alarms and the need to create and practice a fire escape plan.