During what is traditionally a time filled with laughter, special moments with family and friends and time off from school and work, the holiday season took a tragic turn for hundreds of North Texans whose lives were turned upside-down by disaster.
Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, the American Red Cross North Texas responded to more than 260 disasters, the vast majority of which were home fires, and helped more than 1,150 people.
Fire departments typically see an uptick in fires during the holiday season and winter months when the use of candles in conjunction with holiday celebrations, people trying to “creatively” heat their homes with stoves or unattended space heaters or other hazards can lead to disaster.
The Red Cross is called upon to provide support and comfort to families impacted by disasters by providing safe housing solutions, financial assistance, food and water, essential toiletry and clothing items and other resources.
While many individuals escape home fires safely, an average of seven people perish in home fires daily.
Since 2014, Red Cross workers nationwide have partnered with local fire departments and community partners to reduce home fires tragedies in at-risk neighborhoods through the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. By installing free smoke alarms and teaching fire safety and preparedness education in at-risk homes, the Red Cross has helped save more than 300 lives and installed more than 1 million free smoke alarms.
While Red Cross North Texas responded to many disasters over the holiday period, we also maintained our commitment to ensuring our communities are prepared. In partnership with the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Arlington Fire Department and Dallas Fire-Rescue, we installed more than 100 free smoke alarms in the week before Christmas. Since July 1, the Red Cross has installed more than 2,000 free smoke alarms region-wide.
The efforts of volunteers who respond to disasters and/or make homes safer underscores the importance of our relationship with our local fire departments who call us to the scene or partner with us on the Home Fire Campaign.
Take steps today to help protect your family from home fires. Test your smoke alarm, make an escape plan and practice it often. Follow these helpful tips to make your home and family safer.
Red Cross North Texas Service Delivery Breakdown (Dec. 1-31, 2017)
Dallas-Fort Worth chapter: Red Cross workers responded to 80 disasters, 76 of which were home fires, helping 404 individuals. Responses in Dallas and Tarrant counties accounted for the majority of these efforts with 52 fire events between the two large areas.
East Texas chapter: In responding to 36 disasters (34 fires), the Red Cross assisted 121 people.
North East Texas chapter: Bowie County officials asked for Red Cross assistance at eight home fires, allowing us to help 38 people. Overall, we responded to 17 fires and helped 87 people.
Texas Big Country chapter: The Red Cross helped 111 people impacted by 23 home fires.
Texas Panhandle chapter: Eighteen Randall County residents received aid following five fires. The Red Cross totaled 15 responses and helped 59 people in this area.
Texas South Plains chapter: Forty-one home fires victims received help following 11 home fire events.
Texoma chapter: Red Cross volunteers teamed up to aid victims of 26 fires and helped 112 people.