If you hear the smoke alarm beeping, “be out within two minutes or less,” Red Cross volunteers explained to residents of the Serene Terrace Mobile home park during a smoke alarm installation. Smoke alarm installations by Red Cross volunteers and staff are part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
The team started in a vacant mobile home to get some hands on practice using the tools to install smoke alarms, and go over the presentation they will be sharing with the residents. Step ladders, check. Backpacks holding smoke alarms, check. Grid map, complete with dry erase pen to help each resident map out an evacuation route from each room, check. We would split into groups to cover the most ground, right after breakfast.
Property Manager Gerri Lake and Jag Lake invited us in for breakfast with the residents. Over a delicious homemade egg bake in the commons the team got to connect with a few of the residents. Gerri Lake, who’s been there for many years, explained how eager she was to have us. “I appreciate you guys doing this,” she says. When she heard from Senior Services of Snohomish County that we offer free smoke alarm installations, she put up a sign-up sheet right away. The sign-up sheet had been filled, and there were extra names scribbled on the bottom of the page where they had run out of lines.
Each home has its own story. We are thankful for people who opened up their homes and let a group of strangers in. We also apologize for scaring all the cats who ran and hid under the beds when the smoke alarms let out test beeps.
When a team enters a home, one member scouts out the floorplan and finds the best places to install two or three alarms. Another team member gets to know the family, makes an escape plan with them and answers any questions about the new smoke alarms and home fire safety in general. The more people know about home fire preparedness, the safer they will be.
One family did not need to be warned about how quickly fire can damage a building, they already experienced it. Resident Ann and her daughter moved into the park earlier this summer after their apartment suffered smoke damage, and they lost part of their possessions. After that traumatic experience they are trying to get settled in their new home. When they heard about the free installation they signed up right away. “We knew we needed it,” Ann says. When asked if she feels safer with smoke alarms throughout their home, she says, “Definitely. It’d good to have them.”