American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign Saves Life in Portsmouth, NH


Alerted to smoke in the early hours of February 14, 2017, Bradley Paradise managed to escape his burning home. And it was due to a smoke alarm installed by students from the American Red Cross Club of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and the Home Fire Campaign.

Paradise said he woke at 3am to go to his kitchen. He wasn’t aware that the rear of his mobile home was on fire until the smoke alarms starting going off. Paradise exited the home, and yelled to neighbors to alert 911.

The home was completely destroyed.

But Paradise gives credit for his escape to the visit he received a short 10 months prior from the Red Cross Club members and their installation of smoke alarms in his home.

On April 23, 2016, UNH students Stephanie O’Kresik, Katie Hyson, and Alexandra Bourcy were canvassing the small neighborhood in which Paradise lived. Along with Red Cross volunteers Barbara Desjardens, Joan Donhauser and Tom O’Neil, they were going door to door asking people if they had working smoke alarms.

This canvassing is all part of the American Red Cross “Home Fire Campaign” that volunteers and partners are carrying out across the country. Each year, the Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires. So in 2014 the Red Cross and our partners mobilized the Home Fire Campaign to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25%.

Across New Hampshire and Vermont, over 4,000 smoke alarms have been installed so far. As of February of 2017, 159 lives across the country have been confirmed saved due to the efforts of this campaign.

The Home Fire Campaign offers new smoke alarms or replacement batteries for current smoke alarms for free to any resident who would like them. Volunteers will also sit briefly with the resident and make sure they have an emergency exit plan. The smoke alarms have a 10 year battery for years of early warning protection.

“This horrible fire has shown us the importance of this project,” said Frank Grima, American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, and Home Fire Campaign NH/VT Regional Lead. “It proves to our teams of volunteers and partners that all this work is worth it, and we’re going to continue to see lives saved due to our efforts for years to come.”

Businesses and groups are urged to reach out the local Red Cross region to help make sure that everyone has smoke alarms in their homes. Churches, civic groups and corporations have all spent time with Red Cross volunteers as they canvass and install smoke alarms in people’s homes. And the benefits are not only for the residents.

UNH senior Stephanie O’Kresik said when she found out that one of the smoke alarms she’d helped install had saved someone, “It’s kind of shocking. You don’t really expect to hear that kind of news. But I’m also grateful to hear that he was ok. I’m just glad I could help.”

“I just want everyone to know about this,” said Paradise. “Everyone needs to have smoke alarms in their house. Please, tell everyone.”

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO? If you, or someone you know needs their smoke alarms checked, replaced, or installed, please contact the Red Cross for a free installation appointment by calling 1-800-464-6692, or by going to to set up an appointment.

If your group or employees would like to help volunteers canvass or install smoke alarms on a day of volunteering, please contact Frank Grima at (603) 812-1874 (c) or email at

The Red Cross is asking every household in America to join us in taking two simple steps that can help save lives – practicing fire drills at home and checking existing smoke alarms. In addition to preparing your home and family, volunteers are needed in many areas to help install smoke alarms in at-risk communities. People can contact their local Red Cross chapter to get involved.

Announcing the Winners – American Red Cross 2017 Everyday Heroes Awards in New Hampshire

everyday-heroes-awards-logoUnitil Proudly Sponsors Event Honoring Extraordinary New Hampshire Citizens

The New Hampshire and Vermont Region of the American Red Cross and Unitil are once again honoring heroes in New Hampshire by celebrating “everyday people” and the heroic things they do in our community. The Everyday Heroes Awards are celebrated all over the country at which the American Red Cross honors people who personify our mission of service and help in local communities. To celebrate 100 Years of Service in New Hampshire, the American Red Cross will honor local heroes at the 2017 Everyday Heroes Awards on March 1, 2017.

Everyday heroes are all around us – the good Samaritan who intervenes when someone is in an accident, or the watchful neighbor seeing a need in a community. These awards shine light on selflessness of heart and heroism of character.

Maria Devlin, CEO for the American Red Cross in New Hampshire and Vermont said, “People who make it their business to serve others in their community are the embodiment of the Red Cross Mission. We want to honor people who serve as examples for the rest of us. They truly are heroes.”

The 2017 Everyday Heroes Award winners to be honored on March 1st are as follows:

Dylan CummingsNashua, NH- Dylan saw a shuttle van crash outside the dealership where he works. He ran to the van to find the driver unresponsive. He helped the passenger out of the van, yelled for his coworkers to help him remove the driver who was suffering from cardiac arrest. He called for someone to bring an AED device as he began CPR on the driver. When more help arrived, Dylan took control of the scene clearing debris so first responders could access the scene.


The Tremblay Family– Manchester, NH- Erin and Derek Tremblay were awaiting the birth of their second child when doctors instructed Erin to report to the hospital due to a concern about her blood. Erin delivered a healthy baby girl but complications that followed necessitated her being moved to intensive care at a Boston hospital. She spent 10 days in the ICU during which time she received 50 units of blood to stabilize her. Now blood donor advocates, the Tremblays not only give blood and host blood drives, but they also share their story to motivate and inspire others to do the same.


Bev McKinley– Enfield, NH- Recognizing that the large number of homeless residents in the Upper Valley region of VT and NH were often overlooked, Bev McKinley founded the Silent Warriors in 2013 as a grass roots effort to address homelessness.  Initially, Bev was able to provide 100 sleeping bags and 20 tents, but now, thanks to the financial support of donors, she has container storage and collects and distributes sleeping bags, tents, and personal hygiene items and kits that government programs don’t provide, giving the recipients self-esteem and hope.


Melissa Lee– Franklin, NH- Melissa Lee serves as the coordinator of “Senior Safety Day,” a partnership between LRGHealthcare and 14 fire departments in the Lakes region in New Hampshire. Melissa facilitates the procurement of the smoke alarms, batteries, and other safety devices and recruits local fire department staff and volunteers to install these devices in area homes. Melissa’s work and leadership reduces the risk of injuries and gives residents peace of mind in knowing how to live more safely in their homes.


Girl Scout Troop 20001– Auburn, NH- The girls of Girl Scout Troop 20001 saw a need, and did something about it. The troop wanted to find a way for every kid, including those who are too shy to speak up, to find a friend, so they purchased and installed a buddy bench. But soon after its installation, the bench was defaced and had to be removed. When word got out, a local citizen started a GoFundMe page on their behalf. Money is coming in, and soon a new bench will be installed with the hope that no kid will be lonely on the playground.

Our presenting sponsor Unitil will receive the American Red Cross Corporate Hero Award for their continued support of Everyday Heroes in New Hampshire.

Unitil – American Red Cross Corporate Hero Award – Unitil’s commitment to stronger, safer communities aligns with the Mission of the American Red Cross. For the past few years, Unitil has proudly partnered with American Red Cross regions in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine. In addition to hosting Red Cross blood drives and partnering with the Red Cross during major events to help reach the affected public with preparedness, safety, and restoration information, Unitil serves as a prominent sponsor of the Everyday Heroes events in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. By working together, Unitil and the American Red Cross can better serve the people who depend on them when emergencies arise.

The 2017 Everyday Heroes Awards will be presented on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at the Grappone Conference Center at 70 Constitution Ave., Concord, NH from 5:30p to 8:30pm.

Ticket Price: Single ticket for $25, or a grouping of 8 tickets for $175.
Includes: admittance to the event, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert.

Purchase tickets here:

For information on sponsoring or attending this heartwarming event, go to . Questions can be directed to Shannon at or at 603-225-6697 ext. 212.

Strangers and Neighbors

Why would a stranger help you after your home has burned? Let’s say you have different religious beliefs and political views, different coloring and ethnic origins, and different levels of education. Why would a stranger help you then?

When a home burns, Red Cross volunteers offer help; they don’t know what kind of person you are, and they don’t ask.

They ask what you need. “The Red Cross endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs.”*

In other kinds of disasters, too, Red Cross volunteers get to work, with any neighbor, any stranger. Nine out of ten Red Cross workers are volunteers, ready to help other people in a disaster. Who is your neighbor? Someone who helps.

Usually Red Cross volunteers work near their home community. Sometimes they work in a nearby state, or even across the country. The Red Cross is a neighbor to strangers struck by disaster—offering “care, shelter and hope” to anyone who needs it.

Clara Barton started the American Red Cross to provide relief to those who were suffering. Today, American Red Cross volunteers continue to simply offer help.

The purpose of the Red Cross is “to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.”*

You, too, can be a Red Cross worker. The best time to volunteer is before disaster strikes.

Who are your neighbors? The ones you help.

Click here to find out more and get started.

Click here to donate.

* Fundamental Principles of the Global Red Cross Network.






—Jane Dineen

Give Smoke Alarms—Installed, Free!

For the holidays, the Red Cross is offering coupons for free smoke alarms, complete with installation. Now you can show you care by printing the coupons below and giving them as stocking stuffers, gift tags, or presents. Or, tuck them into the envelopes with your holiday cards.

Red Cross Smoke Alarm Coupons: an ALARMINGLY thoughtful gift!

The Red Cross not only helps families recover from home fires, but also helps prevent them. The Red Cross of New Hampshire & Vermont will install free smoke alarms, and can suggest easy changes to promote safety and help prevent a home fire.

By filling in the form here, you and yours can ask to schedule an appointment for free installation of free in-home smoke alarms.

At participating homes, Red Cross-trained volunteers and/or licensed/insured professionals will provide:

Smoke alarms, installed

Guidance in the development of a Family Disaster Plan

Tips and information about emergency preparedness

Best wishes to all, and to all a safe home.



BECOME A VOLUNTEER Red Cross volunteers begin at home. Local volunteers train and respond to local disasters so that they can learn what to do should they wish to deploy to larger disaster responses. To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

In New Hampshire and Vermont, a family is displaced by a disaster – most usually a home fire, on average, every 17 hours. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-464-6692, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.


“Bears and Friends” Fundraiser Kicks Off in New Hampshire and Vermont


The American Red Cross works in our communities in many ways every single day. Helping a military family reach a deployed family member with emergency messages; providing funds after a fire that a displaced family can use for shelter, food and clothes; providing volunteer case workers and resources for people recovering from disaster; collecting and processing blood; training Licensed Nursing Assistants; teaching lifesaving curriculum like CPR, First Aid or Aquatics – these and many more activities happen right in our own back yard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A great way to support this important work is to visit area businesses who host “Bears and Friends.” When you buy one of these heirloom quality toys, you brighten someone’s day and you provide help to families impacted by disaster across our region. Characters like Marshmallow Fox, Rascal Bear, Thugz Big Blue and all of the other “Friends” are from the wonderful Mary Meyer collection of toys, a family-run company in Townshend, VT.

Lake Sunapee Bank 7 Lawrence Street Andover NH
Berkshire Bank 3816 VT Route 7A Arlington VT
Members Advantage CU 265 South Main Street Barre VT
River Valley Credit Union 11 A Hospital Court Bellows Falls VT
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont 445 Industrial Lane Berlin VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 1583 VT Route 107 Bethel VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 264 Main Street Bethel VT
White River Credit Union 330 Main St. Bethel VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 2212 Main Street Rt 302 Bethlehem NH
Gilmore Home Center Route 4 A West Bomoseen VT
Rutland Veterinary Clinic at Castleton Corners PO Box 67 Bomoseen VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 115 East Main Street Bradford NH
Wells River Savings Bank 223 Main Street Bradford VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 1340 Franklin Street Brandon VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 2 Park Street Brandon VT
Brattleboro Savings and Loan 221 Main Street Brattleboro VT
River Valley Credit Union 820 Putney Road Brattleboro VT
Brattleboro Savings and Loan 972 Putney Rd, Black Mountain Square Brattleboro VT
Northfield Savings Bank 160 College St. Burlington VT
Appletree Bay Physical Therapy 1205 North Avenue Burlington VT
Tick Tock Jewelers 185 Bank Street Burlington VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 1151 US Route 4 Canaan NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 245 Main st Charlestown NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 292 VT Route 110 Chelsea VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 345 Washington Street Claremont NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 137-139 Broad St Claremont NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 8 Loudon Road Concord NH
Berkshire Bank 23 Church Street Dorset VT
Wells River Savings Bank 3088 Route 5 East Thetford VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 468 US Rte 4 Enfield NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 13 Main Street Enfield NH
Chittenden County Chiropractic 20 Lincoln Street Essex Junction VT
Georgia Market 962 Ethan Allen Highway Fairfax VT
Wells River Savings Bank PO Box 7 Fairlee VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 347 Main St. Franconia NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 165 Rte 10 S Grantham NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 68 S. Main Street Hanover NH
Ledyard Bank 38 S. Main Street Hanover NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 225 Lebanon Street, Suite 2 Hanover NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 80 South Main Street Hanover NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 7 Route 12 Hartland VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 15 Antrim Road Hillsborough NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 255 West St Keene NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 235 Main St Lancaster NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 181 River St Langdon NH
Carter Community Building Association (CCBA) 1 Taylor Street Lebanon NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 106 Hanover Street Lebanon NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 200 Heater Road Lebanon NH
Ledyard Bank 42 Old Etna Road Lebanon NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 67 N. Park Street Lebanon NH
Wilson Tire 35 Old Etna Road Lebanon NH
Frank Webb Bath Center 55 Etna Road Lebanon NH
TomTom North America Inc. 11 Lafayette Street Lebanon NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 8 Main St Littleton NH
Berkshire Bank 152 Main Street Ludlow VT
Ledyard Bank 5 Main St Lyme NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 1 Main Street Lyme NH
Lyndonville Agway 6601 Memorial Drive Lyndonville VT
Berkshire Bank 3450 Richville Road Manchester Center VT
Berkshire Bank 4912 Main Street Manchester Center VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 116 Newport Rd New London NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 321 Main Street New London NH
Ledyard Bank 178 County Road New London NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 259 Newport Road New London NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 96 Route 103 Newbury NH
Wells River Savings Bank 4769 Main Street South Newbury VT
Wider Than The Sky 158 Main Street Newport VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 9 Main Street Newport NH
Ledyard Bank 320 Main Street Norwich VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 303 Main Street Norwich VT
Lake Sunapee Bank PO Box 40 Pittsford VT
Riverbend Veterinary Clinic 7 River Road Plainfield NH
Pownal View Barn 3827 Rt 7 Pownal VT
Pownal Valley Fair Christmas Bazaar POB 22, Rt 7 Pownal VT
Winchester’s Store 6185 Route 7 Pownal VT
River Valley Credit Union 52 Main Street Putney VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 6931 VT Route 4 Quechee VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 21 N. Main Street Randolph VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 189 VT Route 12 South Randolph VT
White River Credit Union 40 Pinnacle Rd Randolph VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 85 N. Main St. Rochester VT
White River Credit Union 96 N. Main Street Rochester VT
Community College of Vermont 60 West St Rutland VT
Berkshire Bank 20-22 West Street Rutland VT
Hannoush Jewelers 152 Woodstock Ave Rutland VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 100 Woodstock Ave Rutland VT
NBT Bank 122 West Street Rutland VT
Turning Heads Inc. 162 North Main Street Rutland VT
Almartin Volvo 85 Executive Drive Shelburne VT
Talent Skatepark and Shop 2069 Williston Road South Burlington VT
Members Advantage CU 50 White St South Burlington VT
PC Construction 193 Tilley Drive South Burlington VT
River Valley Credit Union 34 Clinton Street Springfield VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 270 River St Springfield VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 565 Route 11 Sunapee NH
River Valley Credit Union 1154 VT Route 30 Townshend VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 70 Main St W. Lebanon NH
Mascoma Savings Bank 53 Main St Walpole NH
Best Western Waterbury/Stowe 45 Blush Hill Road Waterbury VT
Wells River Savings Bank 47 Main Street North Wells River VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 83 Main Street West Lebanon NH
Ledyard Bank 67 Main Street West Lebanon NH
Lake Sunapee Bank 484 Main Street West Rutland VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 243 Sykes Mountain Avenue White River Junction VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 263 Maple Street White River Junction VT
Members Advantage CU 614 North Hartland Road White River Junction VT
Vermont VA Federal Credit Union 1285 VA Cutoff Road White River Junction VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 20 Methodist Lane Williamstown VT
Members Advantage CU 160 Main St Windsor VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 105 Main Street Windsor VT
Lake Sunapee Bank 1 Bond Street Woodstock VT
Mascoma Savings Bank 448 Woodstock Road Woodstock VT
Bank of New Hampshire 55 Central Street Woodsville NH

Smoke Alarms—Installed! Free!

If your home doesn’t have smoke alarms or may need more of them, please take this step to help keep your family safe.

The Red Cross is offering to make your home more resistant to fire. Through the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross of New Hampshire & Vermont, will install free smoke alarms in your home and demonstrate simple ways to stay safe.

You can request free installation of smoke alarms by filling in the form here.

At participating homes, trained volunteers or licensed/insured professionals will provide:

Smoke alarms, installed

Guidance in the development of a Family Disaster Plan

Tips and information about emergency preparedness

If your home burns, the Red Cross will help you recover. If you ask for help to prevent a fire, they may not need to.


BECOME A VOLUNTEER Red Cross volunteers begin at home. Local volunteers train and respond to local disasters so that they can learn what to do should they wish to deploy to larger disaster responses. To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.


In New Hampshire and Vermont, a family is displaced by a disaster – most usually a home fire, on average, every 17 hours. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-464-6692, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.



Disaster Boot Camp Training







Expedited Training Offered to Bolster Much Needed Volunteer Positions

The American Red Cross workforce is 90% volunteer. Volunteers from all walks of life with varying experiences bring their talents and compassion to help deliver the Red Cross mission—to alleviate suffering.

In our region, the Red Cross deploys volunteers to disasters that displace families, on average, every 17 hours. In addition, some volunteers choose to deploy on national disaster responses. A strong corps of volunteers trained to deliver comfort and care is a priority to ensure that no family goes without.

The need for volunteers is critical across our region. While pockets of dedicated volunteers support people in their territories, more hands are needed.

To train additional volunteers in middle and southern New Hampshire, a Red Cross Disaster Bootcamp will be held on November 4–6 in Keene, NH. People who have some time to volunteer are urged to sign up and join this training so that when the call goes out, volunteers will mobilize.

The Disaster Bootcamp is a two-and-a-half-day, fast-track training session for individuals interested in becoming Disaster Response Volunteers. It is also an opportunity for current Disaster Responders to brush up on vital skills.

To Sign Up

Sign up online at:
Then scroll down to DISASTER BOOT CAMP VOLUNTEER APPLICATION and click on it!

The deadline to initiate the application process is Oct. 24.
The deadline to complete the application process is Oct. 26.

Bootcamp Dates & Times

Friday, November 4th, 2016, 5–9pm
Saturday, November 5th, 2016, 8:30am–5pm
Sunday, November 6th, 2016, 8:30am–4pm

As part of this process, you will fill out an application and navigate through a checklist of intake actions in order to become a Red Cross volunteer. Once you have completed the intake process, a Program Manager will contact you with more information to get you prepared for the Boot Camp.

If you are interested in the Disaster Boot Camp, please contact Linda Hokit for more information at or (802) 660-9130 x105.

Anyone interested in information regarding accommodations should contact Edward Blanchard, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager at 603-513-9895 or

Three Years After Hurricane Sandy

Three Years After Hurricane Sandy: Red Cross Successes and Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Thursday, October 29, 2015) — In the three years since Hurricane Sandy unleashed massive destruction along the Atlantic coast, the American Red Cross is still on the ground, having used $313 million in donations to help thousands of people recover and rebuild from the devastation of the storm.

“Hurricane Sandy was a major storm, affecting thousands of families, homes and businesses. Recovery from such a tremendous storm requires continued coordination, involvement, and commitment of many organizations. For the past three years, the Red Cross is proud to have worked alongside government and community-based partners to provide assistance to those who needed it most,” said Richard Reed, American Red Cross senior vice president, disaster cycle services.

“For so many of these people, the Red Cross has been part of the answer to helping them recover by providing financial assistance with housing-related expenses, recovery case management services, and grants to support services in the hardest hit areas.”

View Hurricane Sandy 3-Year Anniversary Video.

Hurricane Sandy Third Anniversary – Red Cross Facts:

1. Spending: The Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend $313 million in support of our Sandy response efforts; an additional $1 million will be spent on Sandy programs in 2016. Details on how donations have been spent are available

2. Emergency Relief: Before Sandy made landfall in October 2012, the Red Cross mobilized a massive emergency response effort that was ultimately supported by more than 17,000 workers from all over the country – 90 percent of them volunteers. Working with community partners, the Red Cross served more than 17.5 million meals and snacks and handed out more than 7 million relief items such as blankets, gloves, warm clothing, and home clean-up supplies. Red Crossers offered 113,000 health services and emotional support contacts and provided nearly half of the 163,000 overnight shelter stays for Sandy.

3. Recovery Support: The Red Cross has provided one-on-one assistance through casework to help thousands of families heal, rebuild and recover. The Move-In Assistance Program provided financial assistance to those whose primary homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable and who lacked the resources to relocate or make repairs. From 2012 through early 2015, this program provided more than $32.3 million to more than 5,100 households. The Red Cross has also worked closely with hundreds of partners and government agencies to make sure people have the support they need. For example, working with local residents and community organizations, the Red Cross helped start and support Long-Term Recovery Groups to address the disaster needs of storm-affected households. These groups continue to help people today in the hardest-hit areas.

4. Partnerships: The Red Cross awarded $95.2 million in funding to support critical recovery services in Sandy-devastated communities in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. This funding has supported the repair and rebuilding of more than 7,500 homes; the training, housing and deployment of more than 230,000 volunteers; and casework, mental health and health services, financial assistance and financial and legal counseling to more than 120,000 households. This month, the Red Cross is awarding $750,000 to four organizations to help them continue to provide financial assistance to Sandy survivors; these organizations are based in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. A full list of grants is available at

“This robust recovery effort was made possible because of the generosity of people who were moved to help after seeing heartbreaking images of devastation on the news, or reading stories of Sandy survivors who lost everything,” added Reed. “We are grateful that Americans entrusted the Red Cross with their financial donations and we have stretched these dollars to provide meaningful and lasting support to thousands of families and individuals.”

Contact: Public Affairs Desk, Telephone: (202) 303-5551, FOR MEDIA ONLY

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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Red Cross Offers Safety Tips for a safe New England Halloween


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Halloween is coming and soon the streets will be filled with tiny ghosts and goblins, super heroes and princesses. Even vampires and witches need to know how to celebrate safely and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to have a safe Halloween.

Halloween isn’t only on a single night anymore, so being vigilant for people in the streets is important. Parents need to talk to their kids, whether they’re participating or driving. Safety is going to be key this week and weekend.

COSTUME SAFETY Whether the little one wants to be a ghost, a princess or a superhero, parents can help keep them safe by following some costume advice:

  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.
  • Use flame-resistant costumes.
  • Use face makeup instead of masks, which can cover your eyes and make it hard to see.

SAFE TRICK-OR-TREATING To maximize safety, plan the route ahead of time. Make sure adults know where children are going. If the children are young, a parent or responsible adult should accompany them as they make their way around the neighborhood.

Other safety tips to follow include:

  • Make sure trick-or-treaters have a flashlight to see where they are going and be seen by drivers.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
  • Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.

WELCOMING THE KIDS If someone is manning the candy giveaway at their house, they can make sure it’s a fun night for all by doing the following:

  • Make sure the outdoor lights are on.
  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain the pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Use extra caution if driving. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing

FIRST AID APP Download the free Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to


How Fire Sensors are Making a Difference in Kenyan, South African Communities

This post was written by Abi Weaver, Director of the Global Technology Project, American Red Cross.

Earlier this year, we extended the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign overseas. And given this month’s focus on fire prevention, we wanted to update you on our progress.

Fire Sensor installation Africa

This July, we announced partnerships with two sensor manufacturers—Lumkani and Halo Smart Labs—as well as more than a dozen other organizations, including CORC, frog and UNICEF—to improve the early detection, warning, and response to fires in informal settlements in Kenya and South Africa. Two communities in Nairobi and Cape Town are currently leading the installation and testing of low-cost, smart fire alarms, which can distinguish between smoke and fire, in thousands of homes.

To complement these efforts, we are also pursuing opportunities to improve the local response mechanisms through volunteer teams, policy change, and an open innovation challenge. Additionally, we are researching how best to add value by incorporating other types of sensors for heat waves, enabling technologies and complementary services like home security, as well as developing a sustainable business model to support access to and expansion of these solutions.

So far, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to apply what has worked well in the U.S.—and we’ve had even more opportunities to develop custom solutions, hand-in-hand, with these two communities in Nairobi and Cape Town. This ensures that not only is the technology appropriate for their needs and environment, but is also affordable and accessible. Scroll down to see how we’ve worked together to make the slums safer.

Step 1: Learning with the communities

Fire Sensor installation Africa 2

Initially, local volunteers mapped with GIS technology two settlements in Nairobi and Cape Town to help community leaders identify who could benefit most from smart fire sensors and better understand the surrounding environment, such as the ratio of businesses to homes to schools and other community centers.

Fire Sensor installation Africa 3

They also visited the homes of several residents to understand their risks, expectations and aspirations, and to solicit their input to the fire sensor installation and post-installation activities. Together, we established a deep understanding of people’s needs and community dynamics, which will ultimately help us co-create a responsive market strategy and sustainable business model.

Step 2: Installing and educating

Fire Sensor installation Africa 4

In one week, we successfully installed more than 1,000 sensors in Nairobi thanks to high community demand and the capacity of our extensive volunteer network. We have a similar goal in Cape Town. The sensors were specially designed for low-resource environments and are networked together to give neighbors an early warning and assist the Red Cross in responding to a fire outbreak.

Fire Sensor installation Africa 5

In addition to dealing with fires after they occur, we are using creative methods to educate the communities on how they can prevent home fires and lower their risks. Cooking competitions, outreach to food vendors, fuel stations and other businesses, and school campaigns have been well-received.

Step 3: Designing with the communities

Now, we are listening to the communities’ reactions to the sensors, and co-designing a response system and business model that meets the needs of residents and local leaders. This is where we hear sentiments like, “The most valuable thing in our home is a fire sensor.” We are also capturing areas for improvement.

Residents with sensors are keeping diaries of their experiences, participating in community workshops, and co-designing improved prototypes with local technologists. This is a sampling of the decisions community members are making as part of the participatory innovation process:

  • How would you name a fire sensor in one word?
  • How would you advertise it?
  • How should the fire sensor be maintained?

 Step 4: Testing with the communities

Fire Sensor installation Africa 6

Next month, residents in both cities will run fire response simulations with the Red Cross and local fire departments to test the sensors, exercise their response systems, and evaluate our proposed business models.

Step 5: Scaling with the communities

In early 2016, we will publish our learning and recommendations for future phases of this ground-breaking experiment. Our ultimate goal is to replicate and expand these solutions in additional communities where the fire risk is great and to ultimately #endslumfires.

As we learn more and advance this work, we will be back to share more. In the meantime, please visit to follow our progress.

Photos: American Red Cross / Juozas Cernius