Lady Rams Softball Aids in Fire Prevention Neighborhood Canvass
With change of the season from winter to spring, fire departments across the country urged people to change the batteries in their fire alarms and smoke detectors.
That was the case recently when the Winston-Salem Fire Department (WSFD), the Piedmont Triad chapter of the American Red Cross, Piedmont Natural Gas and softball team members of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) partnered to canvass part of the Easton community in Southeast Winston-Salem. That community had been the location of a fatal house fire two years ago where a 13-year old girl died.
“The goal was to ensure that all the homes in this community had working smoke alarms, that every household had fire safety and prevention information, and that every household had an escape plan and a chosen meeting place after an evacuation,” said Thomas Dunn, Disaster Services Specialist of the Western Piedmont Triad chapter of the American Red Cross.
Dunn said WSSU students may have assisted as educators talking about the importance of having an escape plan and practicing it; or, they may have been a documenter taking information; or, they may have assisted WSFD installers with smoke alarm installation.
“Our athletic department here at WSSU is real big on community service. We try to do multiple community service projects as our schedule permits,” said assistant softball coach Mikala Johnson. The initial request to assist in the project came from Cindy Strine, WSSU director of University Recreation, who is a member of a Disaster Action Team that goes out to assist clients after a fire or storm that leaves a family with no place to stay.
While none of the students have been personally affected by fire, Johnson notes members of the team were educated on ways to get out of the house if there are multiple stories to the building, as well as the most common ways house fires are started and how to prevent them.
According to Dunn, national statistics show that only four percent of homes do not have smoke alarms, but these homes account for over one third of all fatalities and serious injuries. He indicated that 19 percent of these homes have smoke alarms that are too old, the batteries do not work, or are dead. These account for another third of severe fires. This translates to 23 percent of households accounting for 67 percent of all fatalities and serious injuries.
“Through our partners and volunteers, our goal is to reduce these through the dual approach of education and ensuring that all families have working smoke detectors,” said Dunn. “We truly appreciate the community spirit of the WSSU staff and students who volunteer to make Winston-Salem a safer, caring and involved community.”