PORTLAND — The American Red Cross in Maine is teaming up with the Auburn, Augusta and Lewiston fire departments to Sound the Alarm and save lives through free smoke alarm installation and home fire safety education visits.

The partners are urging residents of the three cities to sign up for these free lifesaving services and are calling for volunteers to help make their communities safer. Residents can do both by visiting SoundTheAlarm.org/Maine.

“When a home fire strikes, you may have as little as two minutes to escape,” said Auburn Fire Chief Robert Chase. “Properly placed, working smoke alarms can – and do – save lives. The alarm you install may be the one to save the next life.”

Sound the Alarm, the signature event of the Red Cross, is a nationwide push to install 100,000 free smoke alarms between April 27 and May 12.

In Maine, Sound the Alarm takes place on Saturday, April 27, and will focus on the New Auburn area, the East Side of Augusta and Pleasant Street and its side streets (Ward 7 Area) in Lewiston. Residents in other parts of those cities may also request installation appointments and teams will follow up on other days during the two-week period beginning April 27.

In addition to installing smoke alarms, teams will check existing alarms, help create escape plans and provide other preparedness tips.

“Seven people die every day in home fires – more than all other natural disasters combined,” said Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette. “Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of death by half and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival.”

Sound the Alarm events will be held across the country and are part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which has installed more than 1.6 million free smoke alarms and saved more than 552 lives since launching in 2014.

“Smoke alarms do save lives! Three out of five home fire deaths take place in homes where the smoke alarms were not working properly or where there weren’t any smoke alarms at all,” said Lewiston Fire Chief Brian Stockdale.

Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster and account for the majority of Red Cross disaster responses each year. In 2018 alone, the Red Cross responded to some 60,000 home fires to provide emotional support for affected families, help them secure a safe place to stay and assist with their urgent recovery needs.

“We know that we can make a difference and prevent the tragedy of home fire deaths,” said Jonathan Shapiro, Red Cross regional disaster officer for Maine. “We saw that just last year in Old Town where a family of three safely escaped an electrical fire, thanks to the early warning of smoke alarms.”

Through its Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross is working with community partners to reduce fire deaths and injuries. So far, the Red Cross has reached more than 1.7 million people through home visits to make more than 660,000 households safer and educated more than 1.3 million children through youth preparedness programs.

For more information, visit MaineRedCross.org.

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