Red Cross Tips To Prevent Fire Deaths

red cross 2Des Moines, Iowa A fire in the home is the biggest disaster threat to American families, more of a risk than floods, hurricanes or tornadoes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half.

Fortunately, most home fires can be prevented. October 4-10 is National Fire Prevention Week and the Red Cross hopes Iowans will use this week as reminder to take steps to keep themselves and their families safe.

The Red Cross says there are ways to help avoid a fire in the home:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area, placing them on the ceiling or high on the wall.
  • Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom.
  • Test the smoke alarms regularly. Install new batteries every year.
  • Get new smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Develop a fire escape plan, and practice it.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.

Iowa Region Red Cross volunteers have responded to more than 450 home fires in 2015, offering help and hope to more than 1,300 people.

In just one year, the Red Cross’ nationwide Home Fire Campaign is credited with saving at least 26 lives. More than 63,000 families are safer thanks to the smoke alarms and safety education they received in their homes from Red Cross volunteers, firefighters and other community partners. And more than 311,000 children have learned to be safer in emergencies from Red Cross volunteers and apps.

The Home Fire Campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working alongside fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross and its partners have installed more than 125,000 smoke alarms in nearly 2,400 cities and towns.

Since 2012, the Red Cross in Iowa and partners including local fire departments, the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have installed more than 4,500 new smoke alarms in Iowa. In 2015, Red Cross volunteers and partner organizations have helped install 1,500 smoke alarms in Riverton, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Sidney, Correctionville and Burlington. In October, Red Cross volunteers will help install free smoke alarms and create fire escape plans in Davenport on Saturday, October 10, and in Fort Dodge and Clinton on Saturday, October 24.

GET INVOLVED: People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

Sheriff’s Office Marks Anniversary Of Body Discovery

Rural Inwood, Iowa — This Sunday is the 37th anniversary of a grim discovery in rural Lyon County. On October 4th, 1978, the badly-decomposed body of a young woman was found in a ditch southwest of the West Lyon School in Lyon County.
wilma nissen
Since no one in the area knew who she was, she remained a “Jane Doe” for 27 years. In 2006, some fingerprint records from an arrest in California matched up with those taken from the body, and her name was released. She was identified as Wilma June Nissen from California. A month later, a woman came forth identifying herself as Nissen’s daughter, Crystal Irvin Haas. Haas came to Rock Rapids, where her mother’s body had been buried and finally got to pay her last respects.

However, the case is still open. There is very little information about Nissen’s whereabouts between early in 1978 and the time her body was found in October, 1978.

We caught up with the lead investigator on the cold case, Chief Deputy and Detective Jerry Birkey of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. He tells us the current status of the case.

He tells us where they run into a snag regarding the whereabouts of Nissen.

He says there may be another factor contributing to the delay.

A $10,000 reward remains in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Nissen’s death. You can contact Birkey with any information in regard to the crime at (712) 472-8311 or via email at

Click here for more information about the case.

POET’s Ashton Manager Travels To DC

Ashton, Iowa — A group of ethanol proponents, including POET Biorefining – Ashton
General Manager Danny Clayton were recently in Washington, D.C. as part of Growth

Clayton's group in Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar's office
Clayton’s group in Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office

Energy’s Advocacy Conference.

Clayton tells us about the reason for their trip.

He says that one of the things they talked about with lawmakers was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and what’s going to happen regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard or RFS.

He says they met with lawmakers from all over the country.

He says the Midwest lawmakers were pretty much on their side, but they needed to provide a little more information for those lawmakers who were from areas far from the corn-producing states. He says no one was flat out against raising the RFS.

Clayton says he wants to encourage people to get in touch with their lawmakers to help them encourage the EPA as much as possible to restore the RFS to the original volumes mandated by Congress. He says we should also expand the use of E-15, which is a fuel mixture of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. He says it’s cleaner from an emissions standpoint and helps the country to be less dependent on foreign oil.

Cause Of Recent Fish Kill Discovered

Fish KillSpencer, Iowa – An 18-mile fish kill on Stony Creek in Osceola and Clay Counties has been traced back to an egg layer facility.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a tank that contained egg washing liquid at Sunrise Farms near May City in Osceola County was dumped into a corn field and flowed into Stony Creek. They say the amount of liquid released has not yet been determined.

The fish kill, which included minnows and chubs as well as a few larger fish, extended 18.2 miles and killed a total of 163,001 fish valued at $25,806, according to DNR officials.  Environmental specialists from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources were able to detect high ammonia levels along several sampling points on the stream during the investigation. The fish kill was originally reported by a local resident near Everly on Monday morning.

The fish kill remains under investigation by the DNR and the appropriate enforcement actions are under consideration.

NCC Receives National Recognition

NCC logo and taglineSheldon, Iowa — Northwest Iowa Community College has received national recognition based upon the College Scorecard released by the U.S. Department of Education.  The College Scorecard is designed to help parents and students navigate potential schools.

NCC President, Dr. Alethea Stubbe tells us about the data evaluated to issue the College Scorecard.

Dr. Stubbe says NCC is proud to be one of a handful of institutions nationwide whose students come out of school into jobs that pay above average salaries, and is the only school in Iowa to make that list.

NCC’s average starting wage of $38,400 compares to the national average of $34,000.  In addition, NCC’s average tuition of $11,500 is well below the national average of $16,800.

Dr. Stubbe says that, in addition to the College Scorecard recognition, NCC, along with fourteen other community colleges, received an award at the recent Legends Banquet.

Complete rankings on the College Scorecard can be found here.

Statewide Call Center Now Open In Sioux Center

texting cell phone_sxcSioux Center, Iowa — Victims of domestic violence anywhere in Iowa have a new outlet for help anytime of the day — and the call center is right here in northwest Iowa. Sara Eastman is director of the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline, which opened on Thursday, October 1st, 2015.

The helpline is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country. Most of the agencies around the state that help survivors of domestic violence have a local crisis line, but at certain times of the day, those calls may go unanswered.

Calls to the helpline are free. The call center is located in Sioux Center and is funded by a grant awarded by the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

The number is 1-800-770-1650. The staff members are trained to handle everything from crisis situations to counseling. According to Eastman, the statewide helpline could be especially beneficial to victims living in rural areas — as they may be hesitant to call their local program out of fear the person on the other end of the line will recognize them.