Letter: 'Sound the Alarm' to prevent fire deaths

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Home fires kill more people in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. Yet, many Americans are both overconfident and under-prepared when it comes to home fires.

The Portland Fire Department and the American Red Cross are teaming up for “Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.” Over two weeks this spring in communities across the country, the Red Cross and its partners will install 100,000 free smoke alarms. In Maine, the Sound the Alarm event will take place on May 12 in Portland, South Portland and Westbrook.

Seven people die in home fires each day, but we can change that.

We know that smoke alarms save lives. You reduce the risk of death by half when you have working smoke alarms in your home. Test the batteries every month and replace batteries twice a year. Also, be aware that smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years and need to be replaced. Since the launch of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign in 2014, at least 416 lives, including eight in Maine, have been saved thanks to free smoke alarms the campaign has installed.

You further increase your chances of survival by having an escape plan – one that includes two ways out of each room and gets you out of your home within two minutes.

Visit SoundTheAlarm.org/Maine for more tips and to find out how you can get involved on May 12. Together we can make our neighbors safer.

Acting Chief Keith Gautreau
Portland Fire Department
Eric Lynes
American Red Cross