“They Saved our Life” A Georgetown Mother and Son Share Their Home Fire Story

by Cuthbert Langley

This originally appeared on the Red Cross Palmetto Post blog. Photo and video by the American Red Cross, SC Region. 

Janette Washington and her son were in church on Sunday when a message stuck with them. Not just a message of faith, but one of preparedness. Firefighters from the Georgetown County Fire Department spoke to the congregation about the importance of having working smoke alarms in their homes. The firefighters said they had free alarms to install from the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross.

“I noticed there was just one in my house, so I decided we needed more,” Janette said.

Educating Georgetown residents about home fire safety is a goal of the Georgetown County Fire Department.

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“Anytime we can get to a community event and talk about fire safety and smoke detectors, we’re there,” said Chief Mack Reed.Educating Georgetown residents about home fire safety is a goal of the Georgetown County Fire Department.

A few days later, the firefighters installed several alarms and discussed with Janette ways to escape from her home should a fire break out. She remembered filing away that conversation, never thinking she’d need to use it.

However, in April, as she was falling back asleep after severe weather woke her up, she heard the screeching sound coming from one of the newly installed smoke alarms.

“When I looked down the hall, all I could was the fire coming from the ceiling,” she remembered.

The mother quickly jumped into action to save herself and her 28-year-old son.

“She calls me, and she bangs on the wall: Timothy, wake up! The house is on fire,” said Timothy.

Within just a few minutes, the mother and son said the smoke began choking them. In that moment, however, Janette remembered: two ways to escape from every room in the house. She remembered they could escape from the back door.

The mother and son are alive today, thanks to the smoke alarms and knowing what to do when a fire occurs.

“It was very scary, but I know for a fact, if it hadn’t been for those fire alarms, I was going back to sleep,” Janette said. “They saved our life. We would have been gone, honestly.”

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In the days following the fire, the Red Cross helped in another way. Volunteers helped the family by providing financial assistance for their immediate needs, replacing necessary medications that burned and providing referrals for other agencies that could help in their recovery.

“For me and my son, [the assistance] was a blessing because we didn’t have nothing at the time,” said the thankful mother.

Janette and Timothy are the 52nd and 53rd lives saved in South Carolina since the Red Cross’ home fire campaign launched in 2014. Together with its partners, the Red Cross has installed more than 57,000 free smoke alarms throughout the state over the last several years.

While much of her home is destroyed, what was not damaged was Janette’s sense of gratitude for the Georgetown County Fire Department, the Red Cross and the working smoke alarms.

“I’ve told a lot of people, if you don’t have one, don’t let a day go by because it’s true: they will save your life,” Janette said.

The Red Cross wants to thank all of the local fire departments, Fire Safe SC and Red Cross volunteers for helping save lives throughout South Carolina.

Red Cross Honors Area Volunteers for Community Contributions

NEWS RELEASE

P.O.C. Jeff Hall
jeff.hall@redcross.org
617-999-3319

Red Cross Honors Area Volunteers for Community Contributions

MEDFORD, Mass., July 26, 2018 – The American Red Crossrco_blog_img_volwill honor 20 volunteers from across Massachusetts for their service to local communities and the mission of alleviating human suffering today at the Regional Headquarters in Medford at 4 p.m.

Volunteers worked in all Red Cross mission areas, helping people after disasters, aiding our men and women in the Armed Forces, as well as their families, training Massachusetts residents in first aid and CPR, and the collection of life-saving blood products.

The Red Cross has been helping Massachusetts residents for more than 100 years, bringing aid and comfort to those affected by disaster. One of the largest missions of the Red Cross in Massachusetts is the response to homes fires, which affected nearly 700 homes last year. Volunteers respond to assist residents displaced by home fires, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Among those being honored are Boylston resident Linda Russell and Quincy resident Stephen Coady, both of who deployed to Texas in 2017 to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Both Linda and Stephen drove Massachusetts-based emergency vehicles to Texas and stayed several weeks on the ground helping those hit hardest.

If you’d like to attend please contact Jeff Hall at the above number.

A Note of Thanks for a Good Deed

The Red Cross is in communities everyday 3helping people affected by disaster, be it a flood, tornado or fire. Home fires account for much of the disaster work the American Red Cross does every day.

Since 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has been making homes safe across the United States. Four years and one million smoke alarms later, volunteers with the Red Cross have helped save nearly 250 people, people who didn’t have working smoke alarms in their homes and were alerted to danger by one of those million smoke alarms.

Here in Massachusetts volunteers installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms in homes across the Commonwealth. Our most vulnerable communities are densely populated areas with multi-family homes and the elderly. Our volunteers are hard at work finding those in need and making homes safer for residents and their local community.

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Our Central Massachusetts Executive Director Kim Goulette, received the following hand-written thank you note from a resident who benefited from the Home Fire Campaign.

Together we can help make more home safer with fire education and smoke alarms.

 

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Dear Ms. Goulette,                                                                                         May 7, 2018

Thank you for sending two Red Cross men to my home to install the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide devices!

Chief D’Amico of the Marlborough Fire Department came also to assist them in making my home safe and protected from smoke and fumes.

I appreciate the “Lunch & Learn” info workshop very much.

 

Sandra M.

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Traveling Outside the U.S. this Summer? Red Cross Offers 12 Tips for a Safe Summer Vacation

Summer is one of the most popular times of year for people in the United States to take a trip that involves international travel. If you are planning a trip which involves driving across a border, sailing to a coastline, or flying halfway around the world, the American Red Cross has some steps you can take to stay safe.

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  1. Download the first aid app. The American Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
  2. Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated. 

  3. Know what natural disasters are possible. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. While you’ll need to gauge the local context, the Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
  4. Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
  5. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  6. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis‘ and have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  7. Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
  8. Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
  9. Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
  10. Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
  11. Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
  12. Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The American Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and, as always, pay attention to the location of emergency exits.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

What to know before you go: Tips for a first-time blood donor

The American Red Cross recently launched rco_blog_img_missingthe Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. During the campaign, A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – have gone missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.

The message is clear, donors are needed now to help fill the gaps. If you’ve never donated before or haven’t in a while, now is the time to make an appointment to give.

If you’re nervous, have no fear, the Red Cross has 6 simple tips to get you ready for a successful donation experience:

1. Make an appointment time that’s convenient for your schedule.
2. Get a good night’s sleep.
3. Hydrate – drink plenty of water.
4. Eat a healthy meal including iron-rich foods.
5. Complete a RapidPass to speed up the donation process.
6. Relax and remember you’re helping save lives!

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Still feeling a little hesitant? 
Give your confidence a boost by hearing Red Cross pros share their tips to prepare. You can do this!

Ready to become a Red Cross blood donor, and join the #MissingType movement?  

1. Schedule your appointment at RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes or with the Blood Donor App.
2. Encourage a friend or family member to roll up a sleeve too.
3. Spread the word!

  • Take a photo with a selfie sign and post it to your social media along with the message “I am the #MissingType.”
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Remember, without A, B and O, we can’t save anybody.

A Letter of Thanks to Those Who Volunteer

In November, my husband and I and our three children were assisted by Red Cross workers the morning our house burned down in Littleton.

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A Red Cross emergency response vehicle responds to a fire.

It’s been long enough now that I can remember all the good things that happened for my family that morning. My husband was injured in the fire, trying to rescue a few last things as the fire started to move down to the first floor. It funny how daily you remember different things that you don’t have anymore. As St. Patrick’s Day was approaching, I remembered a small leprechaun I put out with the TV every March. It was stored away in the attic. It’s the small things that daily remind me of the loss.

I mention the leprechaun because one the Red Cross workers told me that day in November that I would keep remembering things I lost for at least a year; as I went through holidays, birthdays, and the different seasons. Her advice to me was remember how even though the loss is painful, my family all made it out and are alive.

I want to give a special thanks to all the members of the Red Cross team, especially Trudy and Jeanie. They were so comforting that day. The advice they offered and the follow-up calls with a Red Cross member helped us through our disaster. We still don’t feel quite settled into our new home but we are making new memories here and are thankful we have the chance to make them together as a family.

A. Boroughs

Stock Photography of Sandusky Video
A Red Cross volunteer assists a family after a house fire.

After a busy day, Red Cross reminds you to be prepared for home fires

May went out like a lion this year, with Red Cross volunteers responding to eight separate fires across Massachusetts May 31 alone, affecting 32 people.

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While there were no fatalities reported, it emphasizes the message the Red Cross stresses year-round, being prepared for a fire can save your life.

“Having a working smoke alarm in the home is the number-one way to keep your family safe,” said David Lewis, regional executive for Massachusetts. “The Red Cross will not only install free smoke alarms in your home, we’ll sit down with residents and go over safety measures every family member can use to get out of a burning home alive.”

These simple safety measures below can prevent fires from happening, and get you out alive if a fire does break out. Most people don’t know, but on average a person has two minutes to exit a home before toxic smoke and flames become fatal.

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  • “Keep an eye on what you fry.” Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or using an open flame.
  • “3 feet from the heat.” Furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire are at least 3 feet from any type of heat source.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.
  • Matches and lighters are locked away
  • Change smoke alarm batteries every year unless it has a long-life battery.
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Test your smoke alarms each month. If they’re not working, they can’t get you out the door.
  • At least twice a year, practice your fire escape plan with all family members.
  • Practice makes perfect! After each fire drill, mark down your escape time.

For more information about keeping your home safe and for free installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, call 800-746-3511. An operator will take your information and a Red Cross volunteer will follow up and schedule the installation. This is a free service brought to you by the American Red Cross.

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