Red Cross Volunteers Inspect Family Homes for Fire Safety

Christopher Balderas’ home now has working smoke alarms and he knows what to do in case of a fire.  Photo Credit: Marci Pelzer

Christopher Balderas’ home now has working smoke alarms and he knows what to do in case of a fire. Photo Credit: Marci Pelzer

When the American Red Cross knocked on Sharmain Balderas’ door Saturday morning, the Racine resident agreed to a friendly fire safety inspection immediately.

In June, the 39-year-old hairdresser and her family survived a house fire caused by a faulty fireplace. The fire caused extensive damage and required her to rebuild the home’s chimney and wall. Fortunately, Balderas and three children who live in the home were not hurt.

“That’s the most important thing,” Balderas said.

During Saturday’s visit, the Red Cross volunteers found that Balderas’ existing smoke alarms were not working and installed two new devices with 10-year lithium batteries. They also counseled Balderas and her young children about developing an escape plan for the family.

“This is serious. Our fire burned for two hours with me in the home before we noticed,” Balderas said.

After the fire, Balderas cut off the gas line to her fireplace and did research to learn about flammable chemicals in common household products. But she never realized her smoke alarms were out-of-order.

“They say you only have two minutes after you notice a fire to get out. If there’s a next time, we’re ready, thanks to the Red Cross,” she said.

To learn more about our efforts in Racine, visit

Team Racine went door-to-door to share life-saving information.

Team Racine went door-to-door to share life-saving information.

Please join our initiative to reduce fire deaths by 25% over the next five years! We’re looking for volunteers around the state to install smoke alarms.

Share your fire escape plan with us!

Red Cross Promotes Fire Safety with MLK Day Service Project


With home fires as the biggest disaster threat facing families in Northeast Wisconsin and the Michigan Border communities, the American Red Cross, multiple fire department, State Farm agents, Girl Scouts, and several other groups will be going door-to-door in local neighborhoods on Saturday, January 18th and Monday, January 20th to discuss fire safety with residents and to distribute fire safety information.

This collaborative fire safety outreach is being done in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service  @MLKDay  in which community partners are making our communities safer.  Red Cross teams are meeting at central locations  for the orientation, receive route maps (targeting neighborhoods with the highest numbers of fires) The event will wrap-up around noon. Additional volunteers may contact or 920-922-3450 to participate.

Participating cities include and pre-arranged groups include, in addition to Red Cross responders are: Freedom, Green Bay, Hortonville, Montello, New London, Watertown, Waupun & West Bend. Additional locations with special notes include: 

  • Fond du Lac – Fire Department & Girls Scouts
  • Kaukauna – State Farm agent & Fire Department
  • Mayville – 1:00 – 3:00p.m. with the fire department & State Farm
  • Ripon – 9:00a.m. Beckie Pinnow’s Girl Scout Troop tours the Fire Station & canvass
  • Green Bay – Partnering with Green Bay fire and other local businesses distribution on January 20th
  • Waupaca – Partnering with Fresh State program distribution on January 20th

In the past year, our local Red Cross Chapter has provided food, shelter, comfort and hope at 182 separate disasters with the vast majority being residential fires. Although each disaster situation is different, we provided financial assistance to 795 individuals with additional support for emergency basic needs such as food, shelter, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, infant supplies and clothing along with health and emotional support as they begin the recovery process. A few larger disasters of note include the downtown Ripon Fire, several tornadoes & Hilltop Apartment fire in Allouez and 51 people were displaced in the Howard fire. Sadly, fires have been fatal as well.

“Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires by half,” stated Steve Hansen, the local Chapter Executive, “To honor the legacy of service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are working together to educate the community by providing vital information on fire safety and the importance of maintaining working smoke alarms.”

Red Cross staff & volunteers, along with partners from multiple fire departments, Girl Scouts and State Farm agents, to name a few community partners, are going door-to-door to talk with residents about fire safety and hand-out fire safety door hangers in English and Spanish with information on smoke alarms, creating an escape plan and cooking and heating safely at home.

When a home fire or other disaster occurs, the Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to meet the immediate needs of those affected. People can support those in the local community affected by home fires by making a donation to the local Red Cross by going to or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Those wishing to learn more about home fire safety should visit

Help Save Lives with American Red Cross Fire Safety Tips- Install Smoke Alarms and Create a Fire Escape Plan

Red Cross helping out at an apartment fire in Denmark

Every 82 seconds a home fire breaks out, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires can cause irreparable damage to homes and businesses displacing families and employees. Last year, the American Red Cross responded to 63,000 home fires across the country and provided comfort and basic necessities to those affected. This October 9-15 the Red Cross is helping families and businesses learn how to protect themselves and others from fires in observance of National Fire Prevention Week.

“Taking simple steps like installing smoke detectors and developing and practicing a fire escape plan can make a critical difference in saving lives, homes and workplaces,” said Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive, who recommends that every family and business develop and practice a fire safety plan. “Everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm.”

Additional recommendations include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Visit for additional fire safety tips.

Business, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program at Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.

In addition to helping families and businesses prepare their homes and facilities for potential fires, the Red Cross is there to help those in need when fires break out. Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin are responding, on average, to a fire every other day in our community.

“In order to continue responding to disasters like fires at homes and businesses here in Northeast Wisconsin, the Red Cross depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses in the community,” added Steve Hansen.

You can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Alyssa Milano on Fire Safety

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. As a proud member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, and as someone who has personally been affected by a home fire, I’d like to encourage everyone to check out these Red Cross Fire Prevention Safety Tips in recognition of October as National Fire Prevention month.

Would you know what to do if a fire occurs? A few simple steps can help protect your home and loved ones.

The easiest thing you can do is to check your fire alarms and ensure they are working properly. Sixty-five percent of fire deaths occur in homes due to non-working smoke alarms. Remember these three key tips when preparing your home and family:

  1. If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.
  2. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas and test them every month; replace the batteries at least once a year.
  3. Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.

Review the Red Cross Fire Prevention & Safety Checklist as a quick and easy reminder for all the ways your family needs to be prepared. Many more Fire Prevention & Safety tips are available at

As winter approaches, please remember these tips and take the steps necessary for protecting your home, health and hearts.

Peace, Light & Love,

Alyssa Milano