Each year, the American Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters in the United States, and most of them are home fires. They claim seven lives each day in this country, but a working smoke alarm can reduce fire deaths by half.
For this reason, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014 and since then more than 1,700 lives have been saved, including 35 locally. In 2022, the organization with the support of volunteers and partners like Eskenazi Health installed more than 2,000 smoke alarms and provided home fire education to 699 homes in the Indiana Region.
The team at Eskenazi Health witnesses every day the impact that home fires have on individuals. At Eskenazi Health’s Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center, health professionals lead the way in the treatment of burns in adults. One of these patients is Indiana resident, Wendy Taylor, who shared her story with us.
In October 2021, Wendy’s day started like any other. It was about 6 a.m. and she had just seen her husband out to walk their dog. “I was a block from the house, and I heard Wendy yell my name. I turn around and I see flames coming out the front door,” recalled Wendy’s husband.
Wendy does not remember much about that day but told us that firefighters found her unconscious by the back door of the house. She had suffered smoke inhalation and had burns on over 34% of her body. Wendy would spend the next 60 days at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center to receive treatments for her injuries, “I had to learn to walk again because when you are in bed that long, you forget how to walk. Your body forgets how to walk,’ said Wendy.
As part of her recovery, she has undergone 15 surgeries, laser treatment, and physiotherapy. Wendy told us that due to smoke inhalation, her lungs suffered permanent damage. Despite everything that she had gone through and continues to go through, Wendy is grateful for her family and the time she gets to spend with them, “God has given me back a life and hope to be here with my family and my daughter and my son-in-law, and I have a 10-year-old grandson. That’s so wonderful,” mentioned Wendy. She also wants to help other burn patients at Eskenazi Health, and recently completed the requirements to become a peer supporter.
About that fateful day in October, Wendy shared with us that there was one smoke alarm in her home, but it did not go off. She wants to remind people about the importance of having working smoke alarms, adding, “people do need to check their smoke alarms.”
For more information about home fire safety and to request a FREE smoke alarm installation, please click here.
Written by Regional Communications Director, Isis Chaverri