Saving Lives One Smoke Alarm at a Time
When Jill Anderson was in the third grade, her house caught fire. Her family watched helplessly as firefighters responded, attempting to save their home and belongings. Hope seemed lost until a volunteer arrived with a stuffed animal.
“We were standing across the street, watching the fire department try to put the fire out when the American Red Cross volunteers showed up,” said Anderson, Southern California Edison executive vice president of Operations. “They started talking to my parents and brought stuffed animals for my sister and me. The volunteers helped with hotel and food vouchers, so we had a place to stay and something to eat.”
Anderson’s story is not uncommon. Every 89 seconds, a home fire ignites in the U.S. In the 377,000 home fires during 2020, more than 2,700 people died and 11,000 were injured. Now, the SCE senior executive is working to prevent those tragedies as a member of the Red Cross board of directors.
“A lot of us who are involved with or supporting the Red Cross talk about our ‘Red Cross story,’” she said. “It’s how the organization has personally touched us or one of our loved ones’ lives. They helped my family the night of our home fire, so my family and I have been supporters of the Red Cross ever since.”
“A lot of us who are involved with or supporting the Red Cross talk about our ‘Red Cross story'. It’s how the organization has personally touched us or one of our loved ones’ lives. They helped my family the night of our home fire, so my family and I have been supporters of the Red Cross ever since.”
This year, Edison International has provided a $500,000 grant to the greater Los Angeles region of the Red Cross to support its emergency preparedness efforts. The Red Cross distributes those funds to several communities throughout SCE’s service area. Since 2004, SCE has provided more than $5 million in funding to the Red Cross.
“The value that the Red Cross is providing with emergency preparedness aligns perfectly with one of SCE’s goals, which is to make sure that our customers are prepared for any emergency, including a power outage,” said Alejandro Esparza, SCE principal manager of Corporate Giving and Community Engagement.
Anderson recently joined a group of Edison International volunteers who visited 365 Southern California homes to install the best line of defense against a home fire: a working smoke alarm.
“We know that a home with working smoke alarms is significantly safer,” said Joanne Nowlin, CEO of the Los Angeles region of the American Red Cross. “If there’s a fire in your home, you only have two minutes to evacuate. And you double your chances of surviving if you have a working smoke alarm.”
Home fire fatalities disproportionately affect lower-income and under-resourced communities. Sound the Alarm, a nationwide Red Cross volunteer program that installs working smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods, aims to remedy this problem. The organization says the initiative has saved more than 1,400 lives from home fires.
SCE volunteers once again joined the Red Cross in those efforts in May, installing more than 900 smoke alarms in Baldwin Park, Montebello and Long Beach over three weekends.
“Only one of the homes we went into had smoke detectors. That was really shocking,” Anderson said. “It underscored the value of the outreach and education that we do with our customers for all different types of hazards.”
To learn more about Edison International and SCE’s collaboration with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org/local/california/preparesocal.html.
To sign up for a free virtual home fire safety visit, go to redcross.org/local/california/los-angeles/about-us/our-work/home-fire-campaign.html.
For more on SCE’s wildfire safety efforts, visit edison.com/wildfire-safety.