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.


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.


  • “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.



Making Lowell homes safer with Sound the Alarm

A devastating fire brought Dionisio Quadros to the Red Cross in 2007. His apartment, along with those of three other families, burned on a cool November night in the Highlands section of Lowell, Mass.


“I remember being woken by the smoke alarms on the floor above me,” said Quadros. “I thought maybe someone had burned something in their kitchen, it didn’t cross my mind that it was an actual fire.”

When Quadros fully woke up he could hear more than one smoke alarm sounding in the three-story house. The upper portion of the 60-year old wooden structure was fully ablaze when Quadros made it safely to the sidewalk.

“I remember grabbing my keys and nothing else.”

Quardros and the three other families spent the next few hours with Red Cross volunteers at a near-by restaurant, the manager keeping the lights on late so that Red Cross case workers could assist those affected by the fire.

“I found a new apartment about 10 days later. Between the money from the Red Cross, friends and family, I was luckier than some in the house.”

Flash forward to May 5, 2018. The American Red Cross Sound the Alarm event drew more than 50 volunteers in Lowell to make homes safer. Volunteers were wrapping up a training session and rally at the Lowell Senior Center that morning before hitting the streets for STA appointments when Quardros walked into the recreation area at the center.

“Dionisio was noticed when he walked in, he wasn’t your average senior citizen with his leather vest and bandanna,” said Deb Duxbury, disaster program manager for the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of the Red Cross. Duxbury said Red Cross volunteers asked him if he’d like a home safety check and for volunteers to test his smoke alarms. He gave his address and phone number to a group of volunteers and was added to the afternoon appointments.


Volunteers replaced and installed seven smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the three-unit home where Dionisio lives, making an apartment safer where three young children lived with their mother and grandmother.

Dionisio went on to say how glad he was to stumble onto the program that morning at the senior center on his morning coffee run.

“The Red Cross helped me in my hour of need many years ago. I’m glad they’re with me now. I feel safer with the carbon monoxide detector in the basement,” said Quardros.

Lowell volunteers went on to install 703 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the 12-day Sound the Alarm event in Massachusetts’ third largest city.


The Red Cross a Beacon in a Storm: A Boston Marathon Postscript

On April 19, 1897, runners hit the pavement at the first ever Boston Marathon.

The day of the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, Mother Nature threw everything she had at competitors & race support staff.  An almost relentless gusting headwind, bitter cold, and persistent rain alternating with sleet and snow combined to create a runner’s nightmare. Who would have expected this brutal unnamed competitor to join the race?

Kelly Batton-Duell

A young woman from Florida stood wet and freezing at the starting line waiting for her turn to run. Kelley Batton-Duell is a wife, mother, martial arts instructor, and runner. She is an athlete with a passion to excel. Kelley trained for this event, including the possibility of bad weather, because it is not unexpected by these athletes. In fact, running in a storm can be invigorating to a serious runner. But unbeknownst to her, she was about to compete against the most formidable and dangerous competitor she has ever encountered: the weather.

As Kelley pushed forward, hypothermia ran beside her matching her step for step. As major muscle masses gave off precious heat, her core organs cried for help to stay warm. Her highly trained body begged for balance as her core temperature began to fail. Dehydration, disorientation, and muscle fatigue sent out warning signals, begging Kelley to quit. Kelley is not a quitter. For her, quitting was never an option. Her training as a Martial Arts Instructor screamed “to quit is to die.” Kelley finished the Marathon on automatic, having ignored every good reason to have quit.

Boston Marathon
Kelly Crosses the Finish Line

But while Kelley did indeed finish the race, she crossed the finish line exhausted, wet, cold, and disoriented. She would later learn she could have died on the sidewalk.

She placed one foot in front of another, barely able to stand. She was not sure what or where to go for help. He body was depleted of all energy and her mind barely functioning due to severe hypothermia. All she remembers seeing was a large Red Cross in the window of a building.

Stumbling forward, she made a B-line for the sign. 41738073211_18fb54fb6e_o SignSomewhere deep inside her she knew help was there. Two men, Rob & Rocco (who Kelly refers to as the Angels), Webster Bank employees and Red Cross volunteers for Race Day, greeted her outside the Team Red Cross Finish Line. They immediately saw that Kelley needed help, and that it had to be fast. Rob and Rocco shielded her with their umbrella and accompanied her to the Red Cross Medical Tent, carrying her the two blocks to medical aide.

The American Red Cross has been providing medical support to the Boston Marathon for more than four decades. The 26 medical tents – mobile emergency service centers – are strategically positioned the length of the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square. Each medical tent is manned by a head doctor, RNs and CPR/First Aid-trained volunteers with the entire operation under the oversight of a Physician supervisor.

According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 2,500 runners sought out medical treatment in one of the American Red Cross Medical tents located along the route. That number included 25 elite runners, while eighty-one runners were transported to the hospital. Kelley was one of the luckier ones: she was treated for hypothermia – a life-threatening condition – and able to walk out of the tent and return home to her family.



Would you like more information on how you can become a part of the American Red Cross Team? Get prepared by taking a First Aid &  CPR Course by Clicking here Learn about how to join Team Red Cross by Clicking here 


Sound the Alarm Success as Hundreds of Homes Made Safer in Massachusetts

Volunteers gathered from far and wide in Worcester, Fall River, Lowell, Cambridge and Springfield  with one thing on their mind: to make a difference by saving lives. Volunteers fanned out for three weeks between

rco_blog_img_STA camb
Cambridge Volunteers

April 28 and May 13 to go door to door, to install free smoke alarms and provide home fire safety education to neighbors across the Commonwealth and across the Nation.

Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. We as members of the Red Cross community answer emergency calls every day to go help families who’ve lost everything in a home fire. It breaks our hearts to learn in all too many cases, the home lacked a working smoke alarm. Experts know: having a working smoke alarm  in a home will cut the risk of death in half.




When the American Red Cross launched the Sound the Alarm, Save a Life campaign, it did so with the goal of installing 100,000 smoke alarms in homes around the country over a period of three weeks.  Conducting 426 different Sound the Alarm events nationwide, Red Cross teams installed 103,423 smoke alarms and made 43,008 homes safer across 120 major cities – and we did so with the help of 30,859 volunteers.  In Massachusetts, volunteers and partners installed more than 1,300 smoke alarms and made nearly 600 homes safer.


As we entered her home in Worcester, Mary Nuzzetti said her daughter had set up the appointment. Many of the alarms in the house had expired, or the batteries were dead.

As we entered her home in Worcester, Mary Nuzzetti said her daughter had set up the appointment. Many of the alarms in the house had expired, or the batteries were dead.

Mary Nuzzetti learns about home fire safety from Red Cross volunteers
The team of Red Cross volunteers went to work to take down the old units and install fresh devices in all of the appropriate location around the house. When asked what prompted her daughter to make an appointment with the Red Cross, Nuzzetti said, “After my granddaughter Teagan was born, that’s when you start thinking about things like that.”

Kathy Kelley lives alone in Worcester with her elderly pet. She admitted that keeping up with the needs of the household as a single woman presents some challenges. She learned of the program when Red Cross volunteers left an informative door hanger on her front door. She admitted sheepishly, “this is something we need to do and we all put it off because you need a handyman.”

Asked what she might say to others about the free smoke alarm program, Kathy said “Get it done, just get it done.”

April Steward, Worcester, MA, an EMT and a Red Cross blood donor, put it best, “It’s a no brainer.”



The work doesn’t end just because the campaign is over. The campaign was about raising awareness. The Red Cross continues to make homes safer every single day and we encourage our friends and neighbors across the Commonwealth to call us year ‘round at 800-746-3511 or go to to request their free smoke alarm installation.

Special thanks to our supporters who made the Sound the Alarm campaign a success here in Massachusetts:

Access Ambulance  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Almost Family  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Americorps  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Avalon Bay Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM  Boston Cares Catchpoint Systems Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Delta Airlines Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Domino’s Pizza of Lowell Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Fall River Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Friends of the American Red Cross Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Fresh Look Interiors Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM IBEW 96 Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Jordan’s Furniture Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Lowell Senior Center Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Lowell Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM MAPFRE  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM National Grid Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Springfield Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Worcester Fire Department

Sound the Alarm. Save a Life!



Image result for Sound the Alarm Logo jpg        Today, April 28th 2018 the American Red Cross will Sound the Alarm, with the goal of saving lives in the most vulnerable communities across America. This three-week effort is part of our organization’s Home Fire Campaign, a program which will install free smoke alarms and provide home safety education in homes across the country.

The American Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign to save lives. Every day in the United States, seven people die in a home fire. Three of every five home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Yet Studies show smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a home fire in half.

Today, we kickoff our year round campaign to Sound the Alarm with a full court press. We plan to provide and install free smoke alarms in 100,000 homes across America in just three weeks.

Free Smoke Alarms + Risk Cut In Half = NO-BRAINER


Results from a recent poll are telling us that Americans have become overconfident and are not prepared to respond when it comes to home fire safety. 40% of people polled said they forgot to turn off a stove or oven. While 80% believed everyone in the home knew what to do when a smoke alarm went off, fewer than half had a plan in place.

Since October 2014, the Red Cross and our  partners have been credited with saving at least 416 lives through the Home Fire Campaign; we have reached more than a million people through youth preparedness programs, and have installed more than 1.2 million free smoke alarms. In Massachusetts, the Red Cross has installed nearly 17,000 smoke alarms making almost 6,500 homes safe.

Today, we launch our Sound the Alarm events in Cambridge and Worcester. Next week, we will be in Springfield, Fall River and Lowell. But even after these rallying events are over, our work to save lives will continue.

Massachusetts residents wishing to sign up for a free smoke alarm may call 1-800-746-3511. Those wishing to join us through a gift of time or donation may go to

Continue reading “Sound the Alarm. Save a Life!”

Neither Rain nor Sleet Will Keep the Red Cross Away

rco_blog_img_NBpantryLast year, when unexpected damage to the building housing the Red Cross of Massachusetts Food Pantry on Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue threw a wrench into our food distribution operations, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, David Andre, found a way to continue providing this needed service to area families by setting up a refrigerated truck in a nearby park. And although it was pouring rain on the first day of the outdoor distribution, the intrepid team of staff and volunteers did what the Red Cross mission compelled them to do: serve.

It was no surprise then, to find the same spirit of commitment to service and to team on April 19, 2018 when nine volunteers set up the first of monthly mobile distributions in the parking lot of our former fixed pantry site in New Bedford. The day was dreary, rainy and chilling and Red Cross volunteers were dressed in rain gear or covered in plastic bags.

When asked what makes a person come out on a day like today, volunteer Paul Eluziario, a ten-year volunteer from New Bedford replied laughing, “I’ve fallen on my head a lot.” Then he continued, “No, there’s work to be done.”

This past winter, The American Red Cross of Massachusetts was notified that building in which the organization’s New Bedford food pantry operated would be sold. Like the time in Boston, David Andre had to scramble to find an alternative solution. “We didn’t want to just shut down the food pantry,” says David Andre. “We wanted to make sure that the people we have been serving here in New Bedford could still access at least some supplementary assistance.”

For the remainder of the year, the pantry will be operating as a mobile distribution site once a month in the parking lot of the Kempton Street building where the pantry used to operate.

Jim Waskiel of Fairhaven has been volunteering for the pantry for years before he convinced his wife Katharine to join in. Eventually they were joined by their grandchildren, Sadie and Noah Marchesseault, age 14 and 13 respectively. As families arrived, they hustled to hand out bags of apples, potatoes, and cabbage. When asked why they do this, Katharine, whose head was covered in a bright teal hoodie topped by a clear plastic rain poncho, jumped in and eagerly said that the group of volunteers was like a family. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve missed each other over the past few weeks.” Fellow volunteer Alison Miranda, added, “Being here, helping these people giving out great food is why we’re here. It’s the glue that keeps us together.


Previously, on any given day of (indoor) distribution, the New Bedford Food Pantry would expect to see 800 families. On the first day of the mobile distribution, they prepared for 650. Fifty showed up, most likely a result of the inclement weather and the assumption that the pantry was no longer operating.

Andre says that the mobile pantry serves to ensure that those who continue to need supplementary food assistance can access it.

Most of the visitors there to pick up food were eager to get back in their cars and away from the bone chilling rain. I caught up with Kim Campinha of New Bedford and asked her what she thought of the mobile pantry. “I’m grateful they’re still here, whether it’s inside or out. People are in need. I utilize this every month and it helps me tremendously.”

The New Bedford Mobile Food Pantry will operate on the third Thursday of every month in 2018. The address is 593 Kempton Street, entrance on Mill Street.

For more information about our programs and services, go to


MA Red Crosser Sees CA Mudslide Devastation First Hand

Ron Vigue is the Manager for Corporate & Foundation Relations for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts

Story and photos by Ron Vigue

I had an opportunity to tour the affected areas where only groups like the Army Corp of Engineers, the local Police, and the Red Cross (who are helping the affected community) could go through as the “101” (California Highway 101) is closed.


I rode along with my capable ERV driver (and retired San Luis Obispo Police detective) Mark as he drove me through the worst of the worst, toward the mountain in Montecito, taking a right turn near Charlie Chaplin’s famed Montecito Inn. It was devastating to see the destruction, absolutely devastating. I have heard some horrific stories –  people lost in the disaster, disbelief of the sheer force which caused homes to disappear, lives uprooted in an instant.


I’ve seen my fellow Red Crossers in-action. These folks are selfless individuals who come together as one from across the country to help people in need. I’ve met people from Alaska to Connecticut, each one has their own Red Cross story.


For example, my roommate Henry, he’s been a proud member of the Salem, OR Red Cross Disaster Action Team for years. He’s also a Vietnam veteran and has had a long career as an ER nurse. His specialty is casework. Day after day, he’s been stationed at the Local Assistance Center in Santa Barbara comforting those residents affected by the mudslides and recent wildfires. Henry gets them the help they so desperately need. I’m not sure how many days I’d last by doing what Henry does – 8-10 hours a day, for weeks at a time, usually under the most stressful circumstances. He’s special and I’m proud to say he’s a Red Crosser. (Note the picture of Henry below at the LAC, he’s the only man in the picture).


As one would expect, the outpouring of support from the local community has been overwhelming, and stereo typically Californian. From local McDonald’s promotions, to cycling race auctions, and way too many Yoga instructors donating their class fees to the cause. All continue to want to help in some way, big or small.


I’ve come to learn that Santa Barbara is a beautiful place, but not just for its landscape. The communal resilience I’ve experienced here is inspiring. See the picture below of me and four young entrepreneurial girls who brought in $312 from their lemonade stand. Those girls made an enormous difference, as $300 could cover the daily cost to deploy one of our ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicle). That means someone is getting the supplies they need for a day because of their kindness.


I look forward in sharing more stories upon my return. Thank you so much for your continued support as it’s only with our donors that we are able to help so many. I know first-hand, it’s making an enormous difference in the lives of those affected by disaster.