Red Cross volunteers head door-to-door for fire safety

Home Fire Campaign aims to decrease fire injuries, deaths

Seven people a day die in house fires in the United States, and the Red Cross is looking to reduce those numbers by making sure residents have working smoke alarms.

The nationwide “Home Fire Campaign” was launched to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from residential fires by 25 percent within the next five years.

“Studies have shown smoke alarms help prevent injuries and fatalities during a fire by up to 50 percent,” said Luong Huynh, disaster program specialist of the Northwest Wisconsin Chapter of the Red Cross. “It’s one of the easiest things you can do to that will tangibly affect that number.”

Saturday, he and other volunteers went door-to-door installing lithium ion battery-powered smoke alarms and educating residents on fire preparedness in Onalaska.

One of the stops Huynh and his crew made was at Jude Trautlein’s home.

“I needed them,” Trautlein said. “Mine were pretty shot. I would’ve had to go out and buy some. I just thought he’s doing a nice thing for me, so I appreciated that.”

Trautlein said even though he experienced a house fire as a child, smoke alarms just weren’t on his mind.

“Back then, they never had such a thing,” he said.

Huynh said Trautlein’s not alone.

“It’s just not high on peoples priority lists,” Huynh said. “A lot of times people, because it’s malfunctioning or going off when they don’t want it to, they take the battery out and they just forget about it so it hasn’t been looked at in years.”

Now Trautlein has two working smoke alarms, and he would advise that others should, as well.

“Yes I would, so you can stay alive and get out of the house.”

Huynh said there were about 37 appointments to install alarms Saturday, but any they didn’t get to that day would be rescheduled. Anyone interested in having the Red Cross make a visit to install smoke alarms free of charge can head to