By Don Underwood
American Red Cross
When Effie Collins of Aurora signed up for a free smoke alarm from the American Red Cross of Southern Missouri she thought it was to win a single device. But the smoke alarms installed in her house may have saved Michael and Donald Collins.
Effie attended a Safe & Sound event sponsored by Springfield television station KYTV. Instead of a drawing for a single free smoke alarm, she learned she was signing up for an installation appointment.
The smoke alarms — as many as her house needed — were part of the national Home Fire Campaign by the Red Cross. The free alarms were installed in May by the Aurora Fire Department.
In August, Effie wasn’t home but her son Michael was leaving for work and Donald was in a closed back room when they heard the alarms sounding. Michael reacted to warn his father and call the fire department. They fled the house as it filled with heavy smoke.
“A fire is like a death. You lose part of you,” Effie said of the fire that damaged a sewing room and the kitchen.
The Home Fire Campaign started in October 2014 with a goal to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent in five years.
The Campaign recently presented a national Red Cross award acknowledging that two lives were saved by the smoke alarms in Effie’s home. The award will be given to the Red Cross chapter in Springfield.
Julie Stolting, Red Cross disaster specialist, responded to the house fire and assisted the Collins family. The family’s only previous interaction with Red Cross had been in donating at blood drives. After the fire Effie said she received several follow up calls to assist in the disaster recovery.
Of the Red Cross help, she said, “You don’t realize how involved they are until something happens. Then you realize, ‘That’s a good organization.’
Effie is considering volunteering with Red Cross in the future. “Red Cross is awesome; very loving people,” she said.
In Southern Missouri, the Red Cross chapter provided more than 1,300 smoke alarms from July, 2015 through June of 2016.
Here’s a link to the KYTV story about the fire: