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Sound the Alarm: Waco community receives 400 free smoke detectors

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The Waco community received free smoke detectors Saturday thanks to Sound the Alarm, a fire prevention campaign made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Baylor University Red Cross (BURC), the American Red Cross Heart of Texas and the Waco Fire Department.

Mighty Wind Worship Center on Washington Ave. served as the meeting spot for a brief training session and lunch before heading out into canvased at-risk neighborhoods. Volunteers were divided into groups of three, with each person assigned a distinctive role — educators explained to residents fire safety procedure and prevention, installers personally set up smoke detectors or replaced batteries from existing alarms and documenters recorded the residents’ background.

Vancouver senior Harrison Dai explained the purpose of BURC participating in the event for the first time since its chartering last semester.

“Our mission is basically to help educate Baylor students about disaster relief and how they can get involved with volunteering and charity,” Dai said. “Volunteering can be important, as a member of society to contribute to those who may not be as fortunate as we are.”

Mary Henley, a church member of the Mighty Wind Worship Center, explained why she decided to serve as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

“For me, this is a tangible way to save lives by putting in fire alarms,” said Henley. “With us being Christians, that’s our thing — to enhance the kingdom of God through salvation, so that was a two-fold for me.”

Sound the Alarm makes up an essential part of the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide campaign started by the American Red Cross in 2014 in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by fires.

According to the American Red Cross, seven people die in home fires every day, with most documented cases absent of any working fire alarms.

Fire Chief Bobby Tatum of the Waco Fire Department talked about the importance of educating the public on fire safety prevention.

“When we think of those types of emergencies, we don’t see it as happening to us,” Tatum said. “We have to educate people that it can happen anywhere.”

Home owners only have two minutes to evacuate their homes before the fire becomes life-threatening, according to ready.gov. In addition, a home can be engulfed in flames in just five minutes.

Since the creation of Sound the Alarm, the annual event has brought together local and national contributors to serve the Waco community.

Cyndi Dahl, executive director for the American Red Cross Heart of Texas, explained the positive effect the event has had on the residents of Waco.

“I think it’s impacted the community greatly,” Dahl said. “I’ve personally met two families whose lives were saved. We went in, we installed the smoke alarms and within a month they had a home fire, but they were able to get out in time because of the smoke alarms — so it’s been very impactful.”

The American Red Cross states on its website that it reached its nationwide goal of installing 100,000 smoke alarms with the help of 28,000 volunteers and raising $15 million.

“To make Waco a safe city, it takes everyone working collaboratively” Tatum said. “We all have a role to play.”

To contact the American Red Cross Heart of Texas, residents can call 254-523-4985.

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