Yuri Vanetik

Over the past year, the American Red Cross responded to over 170 large disasters in the United States. The price tag for the organization to help provide relief during these situations stands at about $30 million.

While some disasters commanded widespread media coverage — such as the wildfires in California and the historic flooding in South Carolina — most of the work done by the Red Cross actually centered around small-scale disaster relief, such as house fires.

According to the American Red Cross, of the 70,000 disasters that it has responded to every year, most are fires. CEO Gail J. McGovern said that the winter months are especially dangerous.

“Particularly home fires around the winter months we see more cooking accidents. We see people going to great lengths to heat their homes and their space heaters and kerosene heaters,” McGovern said.

The organization hopes to cut down on fire fatalities by 25 percent. The Red Cross has begun installing free smoke alarms in homes throughout the country. Volunteers have helped get the smoke alarms to the homes in areas that need them most.

The instillation of these fire alarms has had a significant impact so far. According to McGovern, the Red Cross can confirm that they have saved 32 people this year due to their smoke alarm efforts.