Red Cross program focus: Smoke alarms for mobile home parks

LYNNWOOD — Hundreds of Snohomish County homes now have working smoke alarms thanks to a campaign by the American Red Cross.

So far, they’ve installed or distributed about 900 alarms to 450 homes, mostly mobile homes, said Chuck Morrison, the director of the local Red Cross chapter. They aim to hit 1,000 smoke alarms by June.

On March 12, about 60 volunteers were out working the campaign in Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville and Sultan. Among them were family members of Greg Gibson, who died in a recent fire in Shoreline. His house didn’t have smoke alarms.

“His family is reaching out to the community to really get the message across about smoke alarms and the danger of not having them,” Morrison said. “They helped us tremendously.”

A lot of the homes visited this month had smoke alarms, but they were decades old and unreliable, Morrison said. Smoke alarms lose their sensitivity after about 10 years, and the batteries don’t always get changed.

In the majority of fires where someone gets hurt or killed, there weren’t working smoke alarms, Morrison said. The Red Cross recommends installing an alarm in every bedroom where people sleep.

“Many of the folks who live in mobile homes are senior citizens who may have limited mobility, don’t have anyone to help them get out in case of a fire,” he said. “Mobile homes burn faster hotter and with more deadly gases than regular homes.”

Local fire departments have been helping the Red Cross volunteers as part of a new partnership, said Kim Schroeder, a fire prevention specialist with Fire District 1.

The March 12 event included the Serene Terrace mobile home park within district boundaries north of Lynnwood. There was an oven fire at the park last fall, Schroeder said. In addition to the conversation about smoke alarms, firefighters and medics talked to seniors about the dangers of cooking fires and the importance of keeping medication information handy for emergencies.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449;

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Contact the local American Red Cross headquarters in Everett at 425-252-4103.

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