Red Cross and local firefighters pair up to save lives
JEFFERSON CITY - Seven people die every day due to house fires. The American Red Cross is teaming up with local firefighters in an initiative to keep that number from rising.
Sound the Alarm volunteers are going door-to-door in different communities, checking existing alarms and installing free smoke alarms in houses without them. They are also creating escape plans for families, especially those with young children.
The executive director of the Central and Northern Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross wants people to understand how important it is to have a smoke alarm and plan for what to do if tragedy does happen.
Abigail Anderson said her family experienced a home fire, but was prepared for the worst.
"There were four younger kiddos, younger than I, in the home, and all of them made it out. But the structure was a complete loss," she said.
There have been more than 30 home fire fatalities in Missouri so far this year. In only one case was there a working smoke alarm.
State Fire Marshall Tim Bean said most people don't think about an alarm until a tragedy hits.
"We, as humans, we get complacent. Out of sight, out of mind. Normally, twice a year, when you turn your clock back or move you clock forward, that's a good platform to remind people, 'hey check your battery and smoke alarm,'" he said.
Traditional smoke alarms have batteries that need changing routinely, but some now hold a charge for up to 10 years. That's what the volunteers have been installing.
Firefighters say, no matter what type is used, families should check and make sure they're working whenever they think about it.
If the light on the device blinks green, it is working. There is also a feature to test the alarm and make sure the sound is working.
Anderson uses her work with the Red Cross to help keep families from going through what she did.
Sound the Alarm will be taking place across the country until May 13. The list of cities being serviced can be found on the American Red Cross website.