In just the past four weeks, the Red Cross says it's had to help five Clinton, Iowa area families after fires. Now, Ashford University students and the Red Cross are teaming up to stop that number from growing.
Volunteers spent the day going door to door, hoping to save lives
With the help of the Clinton Fire Department, the volunteers identified specific residential areas in Clinton at high-risk of catching fire. The volunteers say those areas are made up of a lot of older homes or rental properties with high occupancy.
That's where they focused their efforts in spreading fire safety awareness on Sunday.
They knocked on doors, urging residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms, use caution with portable heaters, and to draw up a family escape plan.
A group of Ashford University students proposed the canvassing idea to the Red Cross as part of a service learning project. They say they hope the residents they talked to today were as affected by the event as they were.
"I didn't think I'd get this involved and a little emotional about it," Martell Simon, an Ashford University junior, said.
"At first I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to go stand out in the cold and pass out fliers and earn some hours.' But when I got out here, I was really like, 'Wow, I really care about these people - this is my new community.' Even though I'm away from California, it's my home for the next two years," he explained.
The Gateway Chapter of the Red Cross in Clinton says it hopes to keep the canvassing effort going, expanding it to flood prevention awareness in the spring.
The students say they were surprised by the number of residents they talked to who didn't have smoke detectors. Those are the kinds of houses where the Red Cross says home fire deaths are most likely to happen.
Red Cross officials are joining with fire officials across the country in reminding everyone that Daylight Saving Time is a good time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms.
You're supposed to do it twice a year, and doing it when you change your clocks is a good way to remember.
Working detectors can mean the difference between life and death in a fire.