Red Cross receives $1,200 Helping Hand to put smoke alarms in homes

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) We here at Eyewitness news report on a lot more house fires than we would like. Some of those fires are deadly.

For months, we've tried to figure out a way to lend a Helping Hand to the dozens of victims of house fires. Instead of singling out one family over another, we thought about reaching more families if we talked about prevention.

Waking up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke in your home is a feeling of panic no one ever wants.

Dicie Nicklaus is a Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross. She says an average of seven people die every day from a house fire. 60 percent of house fire deaths happen in homes that lack a working smoke alarm. That's one reason the American Red Cross has it's Sound the Alarm program.

"This is a huge need," said Nicklaus. "You hear on the news all the time, about fire fatalities. By installing free smoke alarms into a house, that can reduce the risk of fire fatalities by over 25 percent."

For the program to work, the Red Cross needs volunteers. In the last two years volunteers have installed more than 2,700 smoke alarms.

"We really just need bodies that are able to go in, and we'll train you. So, for example, if you have a church group, and you want to make sure your church group all has working smoke alarms, you come in, we'll give you the training on how to install, where to install them, how to make a home fire escape plan with each family, and we'll even give you the supplies," said Nicklaus.

Knowing what the Red Cross is doing is important, Eyewitness News and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers surprised Nicklaus with a $1,200 Helping Hand to put toward the program.

"And that's great," said Nicklaus. "We'll definitely put that money to good use."

When a red cross representative met with Dustin DeVaughn and Richard James, they said the $1,200 should be enough to pay for nearly 100 smoke alarms, alarms that will work for 10 years.

We here at eyewitness news also want to get involved.

We teamed up with the Red Cross to have an event where we - along with other volunteers - will install smoke alarms in homes.

We will hold that event in the town of Burrton on Sept. 22. More details forthcoming.