Halloween was a little different for me this year. My husband, son and I spent the day with firemen from Engine House No. 32 of the St. Louis Fire Department in the Tower Grove East neighborhood, installing smoke alarms and educating residents on home fire safety. This was part of a national home fire campaign to increase the number of working smoke alarms in homes across America.
Stanley King is one of the residents who called the Red Cross to request a smoke detector. A widower in his late eighties, Stanley couldn’t reach the existing smoke detectors in his home to test them. He wasn’t sure they were working. The firemen quickly determined they weren’t working and replaced them with new ones that last for 10 years, with no need to change any batteries. While they were installing the alarms, I talked to Stanley about the importance of making an escape plan so that he would know exactly what to do in case of a fire, no matter where he might be in his house. We also reviewed a home safety checklist and talked about what to do during a tornado.
We visited nine homes on Saturday with the firemen. Several of the homes were occupied by older single women and some had multi-generational families in them. One house had five children living in it and it was clear that the family was living in poverty, just barely getting by. There were no working smoke detectors in the house and the kids didn’t have an escape plan. So we installed three alarms and I talked to the kids about fire safety.
Every home we visited on Halloween needed smoke alarms but couldn’t afford them. It was very satisfying to know that the few hours we spent installing alarms and educating people could one day save a life. The folks we met were attentive, interested in home safety and grateful for this special Halloween treat.