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Red Cross going door-to-door to check smoke alarms

By Staff | Jan 19, 2017

WEST MAUI – The Maui County Chapter of the American Red Cross is participating in an unprecedented national effort with old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach to save lives, reduce injuries and cut down on needless losses.

Red Cross volunteer Jim Jackson of Lahaina explained that in Hawaii, volunteers respond to disasters every four days. More than 90 percent of those incidents are fire-related.

In the United States, seven people lose their lives every day in home fires. This means that home fires kill more people on average each year than every other domestic natural disaster combined.

Statistics also prove that a working smoke alarm doubles your chance of surviving a home fire.

“Home fires can be a deadly threat because they happen so quickly,” said West Side resident Michele Liberty, Maui County director, American Red Cross, Pacific Island Region.

“We are urging Maui residents to ensure that they have working smoke alarms in their homes.”

The multi-year effort across the country and on Maui is called the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

Recently, a group of Red Cross volunteers visited homes in Napili to share fire safety information and offer on-the-spot smoke alarm battery replacement and smoke alarm installations.

According to Liberty, “We plan to visit other neighborhoods in West Maui soon. Once dates, times and locations have been set, we will issue a media release with the details.”

Working with fire departments and community groups across the country, the American Red Cross installs smoke alarms in homes in neighborhoods at risk for home fires.

In the last two years, more than 500,000 smoke alarms have been installed as part of the campaign.

As of Nov. 30, 2016, the Red Cross installed new alarms in 573 Hawaii households. The devices are ten-year battery operated (not hard-wired) alarms.

Those in need of smoke alarms can call the Maui Red Cross office at 244-0051 to sign up.

According to Jackson, it has been a real eye-opener for volunteers to see the large number of homes with no alarms or alarms with dead batteries. Liberty said it is a big concern.

The overall goal of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent.

The American Red Cross is also asking every household to take some simple steps that can help prevent home fires and save lives.

Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms; test smoke alarms once a month; change the batteries at least once a year (if your model requires it); and replace smoke alarms every ten years.

Next, make a plan. People may only have two minutes to escape when a fire occurs. The Red Cross recommends that households develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.

Everyone should know two ways to escape from every room and designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire. Discuss the plan with all household members and practice it until everyone – including children – can escape in less than two minutes.

The Red Cross Emergency App includes content on how to prevent home fires and what to do if one occurs. Parents can download the Monster Guard App to help their children learn what to do and how to protect themselves. Both apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or by going to redcross.org/apps.