081617-blm-loc-1soundthealarm

Lyn Hruska, CEO of the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region, Normal Fire Chief Mick Humer and Bloomington Deputy Fire Chief Eric West discuss the value of smoke alarms after the Red Cross Sound the Alarm, Save a Life campaign announcement Aug. 15 at the Bloomington Fire Department headquarters station.

PAUL SWIECH, PANTAGRAPH FILE PHOTO

BLOOMINGTON — American Red Cross is postponing its fall Sound the Alarm, Save A Life campaign to install 100,000 smoke alarms in homes nationwide while the agency focuses on its hurricane relief operations.

"This was a difficult decision to make and it is not a cancellation but merely a pause as we focus our efforts on providing the best possible care to those affected by the devastating hurricanes and flooding," Trish Burnett, communications director for the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region, said Tuesday.

The campaign installs the smoke alarms, free of charge, in homes nationwide from Sept. 23 through Oct. 15. Red Cross volunteers also would use home visits to help families develop escape plans so they could get out of their homes in less than two minutes if there is a fire.

The campaign would have meant the installation of 700 smoke alarms in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria areas, Red Cross Regional CEO Lyn Hruska said during a campaign kickoff announcement on Aug. 15 at the Bloomington Fire Department headquarters station.

Most of the installations in the Twin Cities were to be done Sept. 23. The Bloomington and Normal fire departments support the effort because most people who die in home fires were in homes without smoke alarms.

"Sound the Alarm is a valuable and lifesaving initiative, however, right now, the Red Cross needs to focus its resources on supporting the tens of thousands of people affected by these devastating disasters (hurricanes)," Burnett said in a prepared statement.

Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region has deployed 90 volunteers and staff to Texas and Louisiana since Hurricane Harvey hit on Aug. 25 and 12 to Florida to assist with Hurricane Irma relief. Twenty-seven of those volunteers and staff are from Central Illinois.

Some smoke alarm installations may continue in central and southern Illinois in a limited way this fall and Red Cross will continue to install smoke alarms by appointment, Burnett said. Anyone interested in making an appointment may call 844-319-6560, ext. 9, or go to www.getasmokealarm.org.

Red Cross will announce its plans for Sound the Alarm later this fall.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Editor for The Pantagraph.

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