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Friday, April 19, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsRed Cross Continues Smoke Alarm Installations

Red Cross Continues Smoke Alarm Installations

Disaster Program specialist Robert Sofaly and volunteer Carol Liles man the Home Fire Preparedness tent Saturday in Smith Bay.The American Red Cross helped install approximately 80 smoke alarm systems Saturday in the Smith Bay neighborhood of St. Thomas as part of its Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, a national program designed to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.

Disaster Program Specialist Robert Sofaly said that Saturday’s installations bring the number of smoke alarms installed in the territory as a result of the program to more than 300. The initiative began in the territory in June with installations in the Williams Delight and Calquohuan areas of St. Croix. On June 27 installations took place in the Savan and Solberg neighborhoods of St. Thomas.

Sofaly said the approximately 30 volunteers who helped with the installations in Smith Bay were part of a coalition of more than 20 groups that signed up to be a part of the campaign. They included ARC volunteers as well as members of the V.I. Fire Department, the Civil Air Patrol and the Smith Bay Community Action Foundation.

Other groups that have participated in the campaign in the territory include Methodist Training and Outreach Program, Community Action NOW!, and My Brother’s Workshop.

"We try to work with groups and individuals who know the neighborhoods well, who are familiar to the community, so we aren’t just strangers knocking on your door," said Sofaly.

The volunteers went door to door in Smith Bay Saturday morning asking permission to install the smoke alarms, which were sent from the ARC regional office in Puerto Rico. Sofaly said the alarms were installed via adhesive and took about 10 minutes each to put up, although more permanent installation hardware was also left at the homes. The batteries in the alarms last as long as ten years, he said.

Sofaly said the volunteers specifically targeted homes with children or residents older than 65, the demographic groups most likely to suffer injury or death in the event of a home fire.

"You only have about two minutes to escape a home fire," he said.

While installing the smoke alarms in Smith Bay homes, volunteers worked with residents to come up with fire escape plans. Sofaly said that ARC volunteers also took the opportunity to speak with residents about hurricane preparation.

"The communities have been really great," said Sofaly. "They’ve opened to us entirely for this program."

According to a press release from the ARC, of the 70,000 disaster that the organization responds to nationally each year, the vast majority are home fires. Since the nationwide launch of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in October of 2014, the ARC has installed more than 66,000 smoke alarms.

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