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Red Cross Success Story

United Way, Red Cross partnership helps with smoke alarm installs

When a house catches on fire, it’s too late to plan and prepare. Most people think it will never happen to them, but house fires are the most common disaster that the American Red Cross responds to in Washington, Nowata and Osage counties. Having a plan in place alongside working smoke detectors can make a difference between life and death.

With United Way support, the Red Cross has a program to help homeowners be prepared in the event of a fire. They canvas neighborhoods, talking with residents or leaving information about the Red Cross smoke alarm program. The Red Cross chooses the neighborhoods to canvas based on where house fires have occurred in the past year as well as the age of the homes, since statistically, older houses are more likely to burn.

With the homeowners’ or renters’ permission, they were able to install 77 free smoke alarms in the past year, an effort that was much appreciated.

"Everyone was so kind, helpful, and professional. The Red Cross workers were friendly with my kids and taught my oldest a lot on being ready for a fire,” homeowner Janelle Hitchcock said. “I appreciate the Red Cross and United Way and all they do for the community. It's nice to know that our home is safer with the installation of the new alarms."

They also focus on helping keep the youngest members of our community safe. Through the pillowcase project, third grade students learn about fire safety, create an evacuation plan and get their very own decorated pillowcase to fill with the items they’ll need in an emergency. Last year, 558 students in Washington, Osage and Nowata counties participated in the pillowcase project.

“By focusing on preparation before a crisis strikes, the Red Cross is helping to alleviate the panic of not knowing what to do in an emergency,” BRUW Marketing Manager Abigail Singrey said. “United Way believes in the importance of preparedness education for our community.”

The Bartlesville Regional United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our communities. By meeting families’ needs after disasters, United Way funded programs such as those at Red Cross give people the assistance they need to stay safe and healthy in a time of crisis.

For those who do experience a house fire, the Red Cross tries to deploy a team within two hours. The goal of Red Cross is immediate, short term response so that no one will be homeless, hungry, without adequate clothing or vital medication in the first 72 hours following a disaster, and in 2016, the Red Cross helped 88 clients after a house fire.

“By partnering with Red Cross, the United Way is helping our community be prepared for any disaster – large or small,” Singrey said.