SKOWHEGAN — The American Red Cross is “sounding the alarm” for fire safety with installations this Saturday in Skowhegan of free smoke alarms and fire safety education programs.

Residents can make an appointment for the free services by contacting Eric Lynes, Red Cross disaster program manager for Somerset County, by email at [email protected] or by calling 795-4004 extension 303.

“Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of death by half,” the Red Cross’s Ann Kim said in an email. “The American Red Cross will install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education to Skowhegan residents in their homes.”

Home fire safety teams will install the smoke detectors, check batteries in existing alarms and replace them if needed and help residents create escape plans.

“When a home fire strikes, you may have as little as two minutes to make it out safely,” Lynes said. “That early warning from smoke alarms can make all the difference. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of death by half, and an escape plan further improves the odds of survival.”

Lynes said the Red Cross will be out on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for anyone who might need a free smoke alarm installation.

“The life saving effort on Saturday is part of our Home Fire Campaign where Red Cross teams will be in neighborhoods around Skowhegan, providing households with fire safety information and a free smoke detector if needed,” he said. “The goal of the Home Fire Campaign is to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years.”

Lynes said Red Cross volunteers will help residents create an emergency escape plan to ensure the family knows how to get out of the house if a smoke alarm sounds.

“Experts say you have about two minutes to escape a burning home,” he said. “I would encourage Mainers to take two simple steps that can save lives — checking or installing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home with a meeting place outside the home.”

The Red Cross has installed smoke alarms in towns throughout Maine, including St. Albans, Detroit, Hartland, Farmington, Jay, Livermore Falls, Augusta, Randolph, Farmingdale, Pittston, Clinton, Waterville and Oakland.

Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said his department has been handing out free smoke detectors for the past couple of years and helping with installation, but he welcomes the Red Cross efforts.

“We’ve always installed them for people, but through the generosity of some area businesses and individuals, we’ve been able to give out quite a few detectors — a couple hundred detectors, actually,” Howard said Monday.

He said the Red Cross provides a great service to the community.

“We’re all for more smoke detectors in the homes,” he said. “We always recommend to follow manufacturers’ recommendations, but also we’d like to see them in every bedroom and outside of every bedroom, in common areas and a smoke detector on every floor of the home — don’t forget about your basement.”

Home fires kill seven people every day in the United States, according to the American Red Cross. Three out of five of those deaths take place in homes where the smoke alarms weren’t working or where there weren’t any smoke alarms at all.

To prevent these tragedies, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014. In just three years, Red Cross home visits have included the installation of more than 1 million smoke alarms and preparing more than 1 million people against home fires.

At least 444 lives — including those of eight Mainers — have been saved because of these efforts.

In Maine, the Red Cross and its partners have installed more than 11,093 free smoke alarms, created more than 2,872 home fire escape plans and made more than 3,384 households safer.

Thousands of volunteers joined the Sound the Alarm campaign to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in at-risk communities across more than 100 cities nationwide.

During Sound the Alarm 2018, 31,300 volunteers registered to be part of the installation and home visit events nationwide, installing 122,259 smoke alarms and raising more than $15 million.

For more information, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/Maine.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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