The Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has announced a program to provide and install smoke detectors in area homes.
The American Red Cross has launched a fire preparedness campaign aimed at reducing the number of home fires, deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years.
Debbie Smith, Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, said they have installed about 140 smoke detectors since July 1.
According to promotional material for the campaign, “Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire. Countless others suffer injuries. The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is happening all over the country and involves Red Cross workers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Those visits include educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installation of smoke alarms in some of those neighborhoods.”
Smith said they have been working to install smoke detectors for a while now and are currently taking appointments from individuals to do so.
Those interested in having a representative from the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross come to their home and install a smoke detector can call the Red Cross offices.
“People can call us at the Red Cross office at 740-354-3293 and we will take down their name, phone number and the address where the installation will be. We will then have one of our volunteers contact them to set up an appointment,” Smith said.
Smith said the volunteer will examine the home to see where the best place for a smoke detector would be and how many the home should have.
“If they currently have smoke detectors they will test them and change batteries if necessary. If the home has an old smoke detector that does not seem to be working right, the volunteer will replace it,” Smith said.
She said the volunteer will have a check list of safety tips they will go over with occupants.
Smith said in the long term installing smoke detectors in homes will save lives.
“That’s our end goal, to be able to save lives by installing smoke detectors in our communities,” Smith said.
She said this program and the installation or replacement of the smoke detectors will be done for free.
Smith said the program is made possible by a donation the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross received.
If you live within Scioto, Pike, Jackson, Lawrence, Adams and Brown counties you are eligible for this program.
“In the holiday season we tend to see a lot more home fires as well as when the temperatures start to drop. We’re trying to do as many installs as we can and will continue to do them throughout the year, but now is a perfect time to do it,” Smith said.
The Red Cross has developed a three-step process to get a family prepared, The process includes having a kit of supplies that can be taken with you in case your home has to be evacuated.
“Meet with members of your household and discuss what emergencies could occur in your home, taking into account what type of disasters could happen in your neighborhood. Plan what steps everyone should take if something happens,” the Red Cross advises.
Step three is to be informed.
“Learn what emergencies can occur in your area and how officials will notify you should a disaster occur. Know the difference between weather watches and warnings. Tell others what you have learned so they can be ready too,” the Red Cross advises.
“Disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. It’s important for everyone to make sure their household is ready and knows what to do should an emergency occur,” according to a released from the Red Cross.
In a survey conducted for the Red Cross, it showed people mistakenly believe they have more time than really do to escape a burning home.
Most Americans through the survey believed they have five minutes to escape a burning home. That’s more than twice the amount they actually have. Nearly 18 percent of those surveyed believed they would have ten minutes or more to get out of a burning house.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires.
For more information about the American Red Cross and its local chapter visit them at 1801 Robinson Ave. in Portsmouth or visit www.redcross.org/oh/portsmouth.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT