The American Red Cross is doing their part to ensure that everyone has a safe holiday season by providing free smoke detector installation. The smoke detectors are good for 10 years and do not come with any additional costs.

“We go out and install them for free,” Dena Porter, the Preparedness Lead for Logan County, said. “There’s no charge for the smoke alarm or the installation. We just want every home to be safe.”

The Red Cross does not have a limit of smoke detectors per household and whatever a house needs, they install. The one thing they cannot do is give them out or let anyone pick one up. During the installation, residents will be briefed on what to do if the smoke alarm goes off.

Porter said the best thing people can do is have a plan in place. 

“One of the main things is to have a place to meet. People have died going back into a burning house trying to find someone and they were in the backyard the whole time.” 

An event like a fire is not the time to gather up everything that you think you need. That’s why the Red Cross recommends every home has a survival kit along with water or maybe some food, so you can just grab it and go. 

“It’s good to build a kit with medications, names and addresses, phone numbers,” Porter said.

Porter also emphasized making copies of important documents and taking pictures of the home for insurance purposes.

“Take pictures of every room. Pull out a drawer and take a picture, open a cabinet and take a picture. Have those pictures stored somewhere [because] we have gone to some fires that happened in the middle of the night and the people didn’t even get out with their phones.”

As a part of their continued effort to make sure every household is prepared, the Red Cross began the Pillowcase Project in 2005 after they saw children affected by Hurricane Katrina carrying their belongings in a pillowcase. Porter has gone to five schools alone this week to speak with children about the importance of preparedness.

“We give them a pillowcase and some suggestions of what they might want to put in there,” Porter said. “This is both for fires and tornadoes. Put it in your safe place during a watch so if there’s a warning, you’re ready to go. I tell them don’t look for your pillow during a fire or if the smoke alarm goes off… it should be in a place where you can just grab it and go.”

Porter also said that during a fire, if the road is safe and there’s a neighbor across the street, she suggested going over there so that no one is in their yard or in the way of the first responders when they arrive.

In terms of prevention, due to the wildfires in our area, Porter recommended raking dead leaves away from the house because it only takes a spark for a fire to start.

The American Red Cross website has tons of information for every emergency situations and people can also download one of the many free Red Cross emergency apps right onto their phones. 

For anyone interested in smoke detector installation, please call the local Red Cross office at 405-282-1194.