Over half of homes in Silver Creek Mobile Estates made safer by ‘Sound the Alarm’ event
On October 19, 2019, a team of over 100 American Red Cross and Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers supported by Council Member for District 7, Maya Esparza, San Jose Fire Department worked in teams to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
The Silver Creek Mobile Estates is a community of 240 homes located in San Jose, California. Captain Bien Doan of the San Jose Fire Department working with Terry Unter, Disaster Services Volunteer at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Red Cross, directed a coordinated campaign to canvass the community and pre-book Saturday morning appointments for the installations. Following the installation, everyone regrouped for lunch: subs from Lee’s Sandwiches.
Volunteers were greeted with welcoming remarks from Council Member Esparza and San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. Chief Sapien stressed how important this work was to the safety of citizens of San Jose and recalled an incident in August where a mobile home resident was awakened by a smoke detector and was able to safely evacuate the home along with the other resident living there; that smoke detector had been installed in February 2019 during an earlier Sound the Alarm event.
Initial training was provided by Terry Unter, Liz Dietz, and Doug Moses-Batson. After instruction on how to install smoke alarms and provide training to residents, teams of four were deployed to visit the homes in the community. Each team was composed of an Educator, an Installer, an Assistant Installer, and a Documenter.
A special training session was also provided by Liz Dietz for 25 youth volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation. Tzu Chi has been an active supporter of Sound The Alarm and several previously-trained Tzu Chi adult volunteers felt that the Sound The Alarm campaign was an excellent activity for their youth. Once trained, the Tzu Chi youth volunteers were integrated into the teams.
Each team had an educator who discussed fire safety and then worked with each family to create an escape plan. Two important roles were the installer and assistant installer responsible for installing the alarms per fire department recommendations. A documenter who recorded the number of alarms installed and demographics of the family rounded out the team.
The teams were each given bags containing the necessary tools and equipment, a ladder, training and other documentation along with a map of the community indicating which homes were expecting the teams either because they had pre-booked an appointment or had come into the community’s recreation office and signed up for installations on the morning of the event. The teams were advised that some residents would require installations on different days, and that would be coordinated at a later date.
In addition to the installation teams, two teams were walking through the community to see if any other residents were interested in alarm installation. San Jose Fire Department Captain Doan did his own canvassing as well.
There were 431 alarms installed in 128 homes in Silver Creek during this Sound the Alarm event.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half. Having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, which is the reason for the Home Fire Campaign launched in 2014.