Red Cross Handing Out Free Smoke Alarms

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MCALLEN--Volunteers with the Red Cross in the Valley hope to prevent fires, one smoke alarm at a time.

Their goal, to install 100 smoke alarms for free.

Volunteers with the red cross hit the streets in McAllen this morning, armed with boxes of smoke alarms, an electric drill, and some educational forms.

One of the houses we went to is where Sister Anita Jennissen lives with two other nuns.

"I'm ashamed to say, no we didn't. We kept planning for it, but it never happened. So I was very happy when the door bell rang and they said they were willing to do this for us," said Sister Anita Jennissen.

Sister Anita said this hits close to home for her.

"I have had friends whose whole house was burned down because of some electric...you know it's so unexpected," said Sister Anita.

Behind the initiative is Betty Lou Hicks with the Red Cross.

She said they've been doing this project for four years.

"We install as many smoke alarms that are needed in the homes, because our ambition is to cut the number of fires that do real damage," said Hicks.

Hicks said they've seen an increase in the number of fires this winter.

"This is the time of year where we really get a lot of fires that they've installed an extra heater, they've plugged something extra in, or they've turned the gas on to have heat in their home," said Hicks.

A lot of those homes do not have smoke alarms.

The alarms installed today are good for 10 years.

In addition to the installation of smoke alarms, they also help people come up with escape plans should they ever need it.

"We educate the people on, you really need two escapes. So even if it's a window, make sure that window can be knocked out," said Hicks.

Sister Anita said she'll rest easy tonight with the new addition to the home for she and the other nuns.

"We're three, but then we have sisters in Mexico, who spend Christmas time with us, so it's a busy place," said Sister Anita.

She said she is grateful to the Red Cross for offering this service.

The Red Cross will be installing smoke alarms through the beginning of May.

If you are interested in volunteering, or want to find out how to get a smoke alarm, you can call them at 866-526-8300.


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