Every day, seven people in the U.S. die in home fires. Working smoke alarms can decrease the risk of dying in a home fire by 50%, but what do you do if you can’t hear a smoke alarm alerting you to a fire? You can turn to the American Red Cross for a bed shaker alarm system.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 62,000 disasters every year, and the vast majority of these are home fires. In 2014, the Red Cross launched the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce home fire tragedies. A critical part of the campaign is Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country. In addition to traditional smoke alarms installed through the campaign, the Red Cross also provides free bed shaker alarms for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
In December 2019, volunteers with the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties installed a bed shaker alarm system for Vivian Graves, a four-year-old girl with cochlear implants. Janell Graves, Vivian’s mother, said that even though Vivian has cochlear implants, her daughter could still benefit from the bed shaker alarm system. “She doesn’t sleep with them on. So, at night when she is sleeping, she is 100% deaf and a regular fire alarm wouldn’t work for her.”
Red Cross volunteers Arthur Chew, Rick Krukowski and Mark Souther visited the Graves family’s home to provide home fire safety education, check existing smoke alarms and install the new bed shaker smoke alarm.
The bed shaker alarm system works in conjunction with a sound-based smoke alarm. When the smoke alarm sounds, it triggers the bed shaker to flash and vibrate. The extension of the bed shaker is placed under the pillow or mattress to alert and wake up the individual who is sleeping.
Janell also emphasized the sense of comfort that comes with the installation of the bed shaker alarm. “I feel like it gives me peace of mind knowing that she would have this,” said Janell.
The Graves family was also provided with home fire safety education, including a safety checklist, information about the smoke alarms and a home fire escape plan.
Since the launch of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross has installed over two million smoke alarms nationwide, and 682 lives have been saved thanks to alarms installed by the Red Cross and partners. In San Diego County, more than 23,000 free smoke alarms have been installed and five lives have been saved.
“I just think this is great that this is something the Red Cross offers… I love that not only do you come and install the alarm, but that you guys also provide the education. I think that even one life saved is well worth it,” said Janell. “I’m just really appreciative of you guys coming today and doing all of this for us.”
For more information about Sound the Alarm events or to request a free smoke alarm or bed shaker alarm installation in your home, please visit SoundTheAlarm.org/SanDiego.