Smoke alarms increase the chances of surviving a home fire by 50%, according to state fire officials, but many low-income communities lack this essential piece of safety equipment.

The Los Angeles chapter of the American Red Cross worked to change that this weekend, installing hundreds of free smoke detectors in East Los Angeles homes.

The event was part of a nationwide campaign to install 100,000 smoke detectors in “high-risk” communities — those with high concentrations of low-income families, residents with disabilities and older adults or young children.

On Saturday, 280 Red Cross workers installed 810  smoke alarms, according to the organization — short of its goal of 1,000. Red Cross workers also educated 925 residents in 238 households about fire safety, focusing on how to prepare for and avoid fires and how to craft a family escape plan, the organization reported.

The event was promoted by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district includes the Eastside communities  East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. Previous Sound the Alarm events were held in Pomona, Panorama City, Arleta and Long Beach.

The Sound the Alarm program is part of the Home Fire Campaign, launched by the Red Cross in 2014 to reduce deaths and injuries from fires. . Last year, the Red Cross installed more than 10,400 free smoke alarms in the Los Angeles region, according to the organization’s website.

Though Saturday’s event did not include Boyle Heights, the Red Cross  installed alarms there as recently as 2017, when the organization partnered with the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Fire Department for  “Smoke Alarm Awareness Month,”. The neighborhood has recently experienced several high-profile house fires, including a blaze in a vacant home on the 400 block of S. Chicago Street in April.

“Every day across this country, home fires threaten families — but working smoke alarms can be the difference between survival and tragedy,” said American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, in a press release announcing the Sound the Alarm campaign.

Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross.

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