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Sound the Alarm can save your life

May 14, 2018

State Fire Marshal Bruce West helps Red Cross volunteers install five free smoke alarms
State Fire Marshal Bruce West helped Red Cross volunteers install five free smoke alarms in Caroline’s home as part of the Sound the Alarm program.



What a difference an hour makes. Caroline has lived in her house in St. Paul’s east side for over 30 years. But Caroline admits that never once, in all that time, did it occur to her to install smoke alarms. Not until the Red Cross hung a flyer on her door about their Sound the Alarm program, anyway.

State Fire Marshal Bruce West talks with homeowner Caroline about smoke alarm locations
State Fire Marshal Bruce West talks with homeowner Caroline about smoke alarm locations and possible escape routes as part of the Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm program.​

But 60 minutes after volunteers from the Red Cross and the State Fire Marshal Division crossed her threshold, Caroline had five strategically placed smoke alarms, a fire escape plan, and much more knowledge than she had before about fire prevention. One of the nuggets of wisdom the volunteers shared with her is that having working smoke alarms in your home cut your risk of death in half. And having a fire escape plan improves your odds of surviving even more.

Of course, the best way to survive a fire is to prevent them in the first place – but that’s not always possible. Mishaps occur. That’s why volunteers all over the county are visiting homes as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign. In Minnesota alone, they’ve installed more than 10,900 free smoke alarms while educating their neighbors about fire prevention and safety.

If you’d like to be part of this life-saving program, there’s still time to volunteer. And what about your own home? Do you have smoke alarms? Do they work? Remember to test them monthly and change the batteries twice a year.  And if you don’t have them, you can sign up to have free smoke alarms installed at getasmokealarm.org, or by calling 612-460-3674 or texting ALARM to 844-811-0100.

A family member who lives with Caroline just had open-heart surgery. So moving quickly is a challenge, even without smoke choking them and clouding their vision. But now, thanks to the Sound the Alarm program, Caroline has smoke alarms and a plan to get out if they go off. Or, as Caroline said to the volunteers left her home at the end of their hour-long visit, “You saved our lives today!”