American Red Cross will be installing fire alarms this weekend

LIHUE — Volunteers with the American Red Cross hope to install smoke detectors in at least 10 houses starting this weekend.

On Sunday and Monday, four people, including Padriac Gallagher, director of Disaster Services for Kauai, will be going into neighborhoods in Kapaa and Lihue.

“We have 400 smoke detectors we want to get installed,” Gallagher said. “The goal is before the end of the year. We have the people who want to install them, but we don’t have the people to sign up for it.”

Gallagher said they received the smoke detectors last year, but they weren’t expecting the shipment.

“We were like ‘What fire alarms?’” he said.

The equipment was in storage for about a year, and the team now has the time to divvy them out.

The volunteers will not only be installing the detectors, they will also go through fire safety tips and help families map out an escape route in case of a fire, Gallagher said.

Additionally, they will canvass the neighborhoods, offering to install fire alarms as they travel to the houses on their list.

The project is part of an American Red Cross campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent during the five years of the campaign.

In Hawaii, 1,575 detectors have been installed since 2014, making 459 households safer. Nationwide, 473,228 alarms have been installed, making 204,362 households safer and saving 111 lives across the country, according to a press release.

Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster, majority of which are home fires. Seven people die every day in a home fire and in a typical year, home fires kill more people than all other natural disasters combined in the United States, the release said.

Smoke alarms cut the rate of death in half.

The campaign is focusing homes who have residents who low-income, elderly, disabled or have children younger than 12. Gallagher said his team is dedicated to hitting every end of the island.

“About 95 percent of Kauai hits that demographic, he said. “People have contacted us about going up to Kokee, so we’ll definitely be going up there.”

He hopes to have all 400 smoke detectors in homes by the end of the year, and is planning on continuing the installation project until every last one finds a home.

“The next one will be probably be on the North Shore because we have a lot of people in Kilauea who signed up,” he said.

Residents don’t have to be Red Cross volunteers to help install the smoke alarms, Gallagher said.

“If there’s a Lions Club or Rotary Club and want to do a project, they are more than welcome to help us,” he said.

To sign up to be a volunteer or to get a smoke detector installed, contact Gallagher at 645-1911 or email him at padraic.gallagher@redcross.org.

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