Smoke Alarms save lives

By Kimberly Jenkins -

Smoke Alarm Character

Smoke Alarm Character

Submitted Photos

Portsmouth Red Cross building

Submitted Photos

Protecting families should be on the top of each family’s list and the American Red Cross extends a helping hand in steps for one way to do this. Fire can happen at the spur of a moment, but can destroy families and the lives they have built together.

The Red Cross states that if a fire starts in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm, plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Everyone needs to learn what else to do to keep their loved ones safe.

As temperatures drop, home fires increase, and with the holidays, that can add to that number.

The David Cofer and his family have experienced this first hand. They had just moved into a new house and the Red Cross volunteer had installed the free smoke alarms in the home, then in a few months, the Cofer’s house caught fire. The smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross not only save the home, but also, the family.

Two years ago, the Red Cross created a Home Fire Campaign with people like the Cofers in mind. 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 250 lives have been saved through the campaign. The Cofers, who live in South Webster, Ohio, 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.

“The fastest way to escape a home that’s on fire is to actually know that it’s on fire,” says Debbie Smith, Ohio River Valley Red Cross Community Executive, “and the fastest way to know that it’s on fire is with a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm will let you know there’s a fire long before you ever smell the smoke or see the flames. Thanks to the help of our disaster staff and volunteers the local Red Cross has installed 1,771 free smoke alarms in the past year. If interested in volunteering to help or you need free smoke alarms contact our local Red Cross at 740-354-3293.” Smith said that having smoke alarms installed in your homes, is the best way to to help prevent home fires from spreading.

The Red Cross installs the smoke alarms free of charge also. And, while they install them, they give safety tips for helping prevent fires, things they can do especially in the colder months. A lot of people have space heaters and the Red Cross encourages them to make sure they don’t have anything around them and they will look around for things that could be a fire hazard. They also say they see a lot more cooking fires and electrical outlet fires during the holidays.

The Red Cross has a list or reminders for things to be aware of during this time of the year:

1 – Place trees, wreaths and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources, like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles.

2- Purchase flame retardant artificial trees or greens. And, if you have a real tree, keep them as moist as possible.

3 -Make sure that light strings are in good conditions, do not used frayed electrical cords.

4 – Always unplug holiday lights and decortions before leaving home or going to bed.

5 – Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or home.

6 – Keep curious pets and children away from trees, Kwanzaa or menorah candle stands.

7 – Designate one person to walk around the home to make sure all is extinguished or turned off.

8 – Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas. Check the alarms each month, and replace batteries at least once a year.

Research shows the increase in home fire deaths and injuries are a result of two factors:

One, as a result of modern synthetic fabrics and other factors, homes today burn as much as eight times faster than homes did 30 years ago. And, two, the fires also produce thicker, denser smoke that is filled with carbon monoxide, cyanide and other toxins, which is the most common cause of death.

However, research also shows that having working smoke alarms in a home increases the chances of survival by 50 percent. The reason is simple: Time. With fires burning so much faster and hotter, occupants have just two to three minutes to escape a home once a fire starts. That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s not, especially while dealing with blinding, toxic smoke. Smoke alarms—especially when combined with an escape plan and knowing what to do once they go off—really do save lives.

The smoke alarms—as well as all disaster-related services provided by the Red Cross—are free. The Red Cross is not a governmental agency, so the costs to provide these services comes from donations provided by the generosity of the American public.

No one wants to lose all their memories and precious things to a preventable fire, and to think a simple ‘free’ smoke alarm from the Red Cross can help, so this does not happen.

Smoke Alarm Character Alarm Character Submitted Photos

Portsmouth Red Cross building Red Cross building Submitted Photos

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928