By Ekland Durousseau, American Red Cross Public Affairs 

Last month, volunteers with the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign visited the home of Vietnam Veteran Gilberto Guerrero and his wife Juana to install a couple of smoke alarms. Thanks to the generosity of a Red Cross partner, the couple would end up with more than just a lesson in fire safety prevention.

Less than a week after the alarm installation, a couple of scorched pans on the stove showed how quickly a home fire can start. “I left frying pans with water to boil in order to clean them, got a visit from a friend and went outside,” said Guerrero. “I completely forgot about the frying pans until the alarms went off and my wife ran screaming out of the house”.

Gilberto sent an email to Kimberly Isola, American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Manager, telling her what happened and thanking her for installing the alarms.

“We recently learned that Land O’Lakes had a couple of extra tickets to the Super Bowl and wanted to give them to a veteran that had received  Red Cross services,” said Isola. “Well, Gilberto was still on my mind and he was the first person I thought of.”

The once-in-a-lifetime experience is the first professional football game Gilberto and Juana have ever been to.

Each year, the Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires. Our goal is to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S. 25% by 2020.

The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign coordinates with community partners and conducts door-to-door installation of smoke alarms and completion of home-safety checklists and plans in vulnerable neighborhoods. If you would like to have a smoke alarm installation rally in your neighborhood, please contact your local Chapter.