Listen-Wake up, Wake up.

Smoke alarm team left to right Ed Helphinstine, Tim Skaggs, and Bryan Smith.

A Smoke Alarm team member installing a free smoke alarm.

A loud shrilling sound wakes you up from a deep sleep, it takes you a minute to think what is happening, and then, you realize, your smoke alarm is going off and you have a fire in your home! This is a scary moment for anyone, but that sound alone can save lives and homes, so it is worth the initial scare it causes.

Debbie Smith from the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has a program for installing free smoke alarms in homes in our communities.

“Our program we have with smoke alarms, the Red Cross, almost three years ago, had decided to start a program we call the Home Fire Campaign,” Smith said. “The goal is to prevent deaths and injuries in home fires by installing home smoke alarms, so we have now been doing that for the past three years. We offer the free smoke alarms to anyone in our communities, and actually the Red Cross nationally is doing this program all over the United States. In our six counties that we serve, last year alone, we installed 1, 771 free smoke alarms. And in just the past three months, we’ve installed over 500.”

Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire in the United States, and the Red Cross created a goal to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from home fires by 25 percent through the installation of free smoke alarms. To date, more than 270 lives have been saved nationally through the campaign. The American Red Cross expects to install it’s one Millionth smoke alarm this month.

The local Red Cross this year had three lives that were saved in South Webster, Ohio by smoke alarms that were installed. David Cofer was getting ready to move into a new home with his wife Amy and son Jacob when Red Cross volunteer, Tim Skaggs asked him if the home had smoke alarms. When David said that it didn’t, Tim arranged for the Red Cross to come out and install some for free. A few weeks after the alarms were installed the family experienced first hand what this free program can do.

“The smoke alarm we had installed had woke the family up in the middle of the night, they got out in time. The father in the family then cut off the electricity, it was like a hot water heater that he had, that caught fire and when he cut off the electricity too, it kind of stopped the source of the fire. So, it not only saved their lives, it save their home. It was a fairly new home that was built too, said Smith. The Cofers, who live in South Webster, in Scioto County, are the first confirmed family in our region to be saved as a result of the smoke alarm installation efforts by the Ohio River Valley Red Cross.”

She also said, “We know that seven times a day someone dies in a home fire. We are doing everything we can to try to change those numbers. We encourage people to give us a call the phone number is 740-354-3293 to have us set them up to have the free smoke alarms installed.

What we do is we set up appointments and then we go out to their homes and we install it and right now our smoke alarm install team is about three to four people that we have that on that team and another thing is, we are always looking for additional volunteers, because the more volunteers that we have in our local communities, the more installs we can have to get done.”

Smith went on to say, “Right now we have a little over 130 on our list for installs, and we are doing about 50 a week. Right now, it’s taking us a couple of weeks to get to all the people that are on the list, but we encourage people to keep calling in, because we keep working through that list and every once in awhile, we’ll get it down to almost nothing and then it kind of builds back up again. This is great, because we want that. We know that installing them is saving lives. If they call that number, we will put them on the list and get them installed.

Plus if they want to volunteer, even if it’s just one day a month, they would like to go out and help install smoke alarms, it’s actually very easy, the training’s a matter of probably twenty minutes, its very simple.” This, would be a great way for anyone to help out in their local areas, if they feel that no enough is done in our area.

Smoke alarms do have a unique sound, a sound that not most would call pleasant or nice, but the sound is set up that way, for that very reason. If they were easy to listen to, would people be awakened from a deep sleep? Just think of that sound as the most irratating, yet wonderful sound, that can save lives.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928