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Red Cross and Dubuque Firefighters install 172 Smoke Alarms

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“Everyone should take part in free events like this. I didn’t know I didn’t have any smoke alarms."

The American Red Cross of Northeast Iowa teamed up with local firefighters, volunteers and Audubon Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa on April 9 to install free smoke alarms in homes that needed them. Volunteers installed 172 free smoke alarms near the elementary school.

The volunteers were split in to teams of four, and each team was armed with cordless drills and buckets full of new smoke alarms. Volunteers knocked on the doors to make sure residents had working smoke alarms and a plan to get out if their homes caught fire.

In addition to the free smoke alarm installations, testing and escape plans the Red Cross of Northeast Iowa teamed up with the Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Dubuque Housing Department. In honor of child abuse prevention month, the Child Abuse Prevention Council provided “Family Safety Kits” to each home that was also provided with fire safety services. The “Family Safety Kits” included a free first aid kit and other resources for home safety. The Dubuque Housing Department provided information on their “Lead Abatement” program that provides grant money so homeowners can remove lead from their homes.

Seven times a day someone in the United States dies in a home fire. Countless others suffer injuries. To combat these tragic statistics, the Red Cross launched The Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent by 2020. The Home Fire 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.

When volunteers arrived at Dee Turner’s home, they discovered he had no smoke alarms. A team of firefighters installed five new smoke alarms in his home - one on each floor and in each bedroom. 

“Everyone should take part in free events like this,” Turner said. “I didn’t know I didn’t have any smoke alarms.” 

The biggest challenge for volunteers was making people feel comfortable enough to let them inside their homes. The stigma behind people going door-to-door is that they are selling something. Everything offered during the door-to-door Home Fire Campaign events is free.  Red Cross volunteers entered 90 homes in the neighborhood on April 9.

“Some people were hesitant to let our volunteers” said Jolene Carpenter, the Disaster Program Manager of the Red Cross of Northeast Iowa. “But, even with the challenges it was a successful day for all involved.” 

 HOME FIRE SAFETY There are several things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones from fires. They include:

  • Installing smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Developing a fire evacuation plan with all members of the household and practicing it several times a year, at different times of the day.
  • Include two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above. Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
  • Removing any fire hazards from the home.

Fire departments and communities that are interested in partnering with the Red Cross to help reduce fire deaths and injuries by installing smoke alarms and educating families on fire safety, can call (515) 243-7681.