Did you know that once a fire starts, you only have two minutes to escape? The American Red Cross aspires to turn compassion into action so that our communities are ready and prepared for disasters. Programs such as Sound the Alarm ensure homes are safer by partnering with fire departments to install free smoke alarms into homes where it’s safe to do so and educating families about home fire safety.  

Sound the Alarm is part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to save lives. Disaster Program Manager Josh Moskowitz says, “It’s a fantastic program.” Moskowitz says that his favorite part is being able to work to make homes safer by providing families with these smoke alarms. He also enjoys hearing families speak about their experiences and how they felt learning about fire safety.

Tommy Smith has been both a volunteer and volunteer lead for the campaign. He joined the Red Cross in 2001 and sporadically volunteered when he could. Since 2017, he has been essentially a full-time volunteer. He enjoys the Red Cross because “you get to meet all kinds of people all while making their homes safer.” Smith says that as a volunteer for Sound the Alarm, “It is a really neat and fun entry level event for new American Red Cross volunteers.” He says that it makes him happy to know that lots of homes are safer.

The Eastern New York Region is being joined by community partners for Sound the Alarm events on Saturday, May 8. In Central and Northern New York, the Red Cross is partnering with volunteer fire departments in the Onondaga County communities of Fayetteville and Manlius. The Northeastern New York Chapter is partnering with Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, the Clifton Park Fire Department, and Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire District No. 1 for a smoke alarms and education initiative.

Red Cross volunteers will meet with residents outside their homes to share fire safety information and help them create an escape plan to practice their two-minute fire drill.

For more information on how to keep your home safe during a fire or create your own fire escape plan, visit soundthealarm.org. Remember don’t panic but sound the alarm.  

Story by: Communications Intern Sierra Fryson, Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications