American Red Cross promoting fire safety in Indiana by installing smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The American Red Cross of Indiana is distributing more than 13,000 free smoke detectors across the state as part of a nation-wide campaign to promote fire safety.

The initiative is called Sound the Alarm. Through May 13, volunteers are installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries in at-risk Indiana neighborhoods, and they believe it could save lives.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website, 42 fire-related deaths have been reported in Indiana so far in 2018. That is more than this same time last year, and in most fire deaths, the site states that emergency crews can not verify if a smoke alarm was working. 

Even if you already have a smoke alarm in your home or apartment, Jeffersonville Fire Department Sgt. Justin Ames said the Red Cross’ initiative is a good reminder to check and test them.

“At the end of 2016, we had four fire-related deaths,” Ames said. “(In) three of those deaths, we are 100 percent sure that they probably could’ve been prevented had they had working smoke detectors.”

Ames said it is recommended to have one smoke alarm on every floor and one in every bedroom. Check smoke detector batteries every six months, replace them every year and test the alarm once a month. Ames said it’s important to involve children in testing the alarms.

“I always tell them to go home and push the button,” Ames said. “When you go to grandma’s house, ask to push the button. It does a couple things. It reminds the parents to test the smoke detectors. And kids like to push buttons! Right?”

Floyd County Emergency Management Director Kent Barrow agreed every household must have working smoke detectors. Barrow said it is a good idea as you test the alarms or get new ones to also take the time to create emergency plans.

“Have a meeting area,” Barrow said. “So that when everyone gets out of the house, there’s on location.”

Barrow said it’s a good idea to make that location a safe distance away from the house but not in the roadway where fire crews will need to set up equipment.

The American Red Cross of Louisville will also be supporting the Sound the Alarm initiative. There will be an event May 12 in the Portland and Russell neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms.

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