Red Cross volunteers install smoke alarms at Orange County mobile home park

Volunteers go door to door at Deerwood

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – There were many thankful residents Saturday morning at Deerwood, a mobile home park in east Orange County.

Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Central Florida went door to door making sure everyone had a working smoke alarm. They helped install the free alarms and also educated residents about the importance of having an escape plan.

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Volunteer Erica Santella told News 6 it meant so much.

“Yes it does, especially when you see what happens at a fire when people do not have smoke alarms,” Santella said, when asked if it made her happy to help save lives and get results.

Saturday’s event was called “Sound Your Alarm.” It’s all part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign that launched in October 2014, aimed at reducing home fire deaths and injuries.

According to the American Red Cross, “Through December 2022, the campaign has helped save at least 1,414 lives through outreach and education efforts. Nationwide, more than 2.4 million free smoke alarms have been installed, making more than 1,033,000 families safer.”

You might recall a fire destroyed a Pine Hills duplex on Balboa Drive earlier this month. The family of five made it out safely, but four of their dogs died. Firefighters said the family was awakened by neighbors in this case, not by a working smoke detector.


Back at Deerwood, residents also got free food boxes Saturday, all thanks to Second Harvest Food Bank.

“Oh, this is going to help so much,” Georgianna Dutkiewizz said.

Dutkiewizz was among the many residents who said she’s thankful and that having a working smoke alarm is vital, especially because she has three teenage kids.

“If there’s a fire, we’d probably die. Smoke inhalation or flames or whatever,” Dutkiewizz said.

These education events are important in any community, but officials say they’re vital especially in low-lying and mobile home communities.

“That particular homestyle is very vulnerable because a fire can move through them very rapidly,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.

Demings said these proactive measures aimed at saving lives are important.

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.