Sounding the Alarm for Home Fire Safety 

By Tom Ruse, American Red Cross 

Home fires claim an average of seven lives every day! As the American Red Cross of Wisconsin gears up for the annual Home Fire Campaign to encourage home fire readiness, we are sharing practical experiences from residents who’ve “been there”. 

Evelyn Rodgers from Milwaukee explains how she, and her mother and daughter have learned from experiencing fire in their home in Milwaukee.

“It was an electrical fire, which means it was in the walls,” said Evelyn Rodgers. “You could smell it. I had no power to the upstairs part of my house. When I went upstairs to the bathroom, I felt the heat. I looked towards the shower and saw smoke. I yelled down to my mom and daughter to put their shoes and coat on as I dialed 911,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers continues to say, “(The Red Cross was) very helpful. I spoke to a mental health/spiritual advisor, my daughter talked to a counselor, and my mom was able to get her medication replaced. They constantly checked on me to see where I was on my house journey and how I was doing overall.” 

Better days ahead! Evelyn and her mother and daughter (Left-right Pat, E’Monni , Evelyn )

Having lived through this, Rodgers explains how they now prepare for the future.

“Any time my daughter hears a smoke detector she thinks it is a fire. She constantly touches the walls to make sure they are not hot. She does not like crawl spaces. She is 5 so I know it was scary for her. We check the smoke detector regularly. My daughter even makes sure we check them every night. We also have an escape plan and a spot to meet up if the situation ever occurs again. I also had my in-laws come check the wiring to see if it was up to code.”  

Shanetta Hudson, from Milwaukee, experienced a fire in her apartment building when a neighbor fell asleep while cooking. While she and her son were alerted in time and got out safely, they lost everything they owned. 

“The fire department came, kicked the door in, told us to leave. It was terrifying! Hudson explained, “We lost everything. But the Red Cross was very helpful in a major way. I appreciate everything they did and so quickly. They help me get moved to a new location very quickly. And they provided us with air mattresses so we wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor when we first moved in. I actually had them before we moved in. They gave us vouchers to use at Salvation Army for clothes and supplies and such. If it were not for the Red Cross, I’d still be in a shelter.” 

“We did have working smoke alarms and will continue to make sure we do,” said Hudson.

Home fires claim seven lives every day but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. 

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign helps save lives by installing free smoke alarms in homes that do not have them, and by educating people about home fire safety. 

To schedule a FREE smoke alarm installation visit: or call 1-888-376-4056.  

We are also rallying volunteers to install free smoke alarms, as part of our nationwide Sound the Alarm events. See the following volunteering opportunities in the area:

Saturday, April 15, 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 

M3 Insurance 
828 John Nolen Drive 
Madison, WI 53713 

To volunteer CLICK HERE 

Saturday, May 6, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 

Milwaukee Safety Academy 
6680 N. Teutonia Ave, 
Milwaukee, WI 53209 

To volunteer: CLICK HERE 

Learn more about the Home Fire Campaign and how you can prevent and prepare for home fires visit: 

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