SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts is teaming up with the Springfield Fire Department to install 70 smoke alarms in homes throughout the city on Thursday.

“This is a nationwide initiative to try to make homes safe, and save people the heartache of death and injury by home fire,” explained Mary Nathan, the Disaster Program Manager of the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts.

Nathan told 22News that working smoke alarms are critical, you have just two minutes to get out of home when a fire starts.

“Everything in homes now are plastic, and it flashes over in about two minutes,” Nathan said. “A smoke alarm will alert you, so you have those two minutes to get out. Without a smoke alarm, a fire could be simmering and it could be too late.”

Nathan said nearly 1,300 lives have been saved across the country through the “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” program. Springfield was one of five communities identified across the state by the Red Cross that needed more smoke alarms installed in homes.

“If you don’t have a smoke detector, the chances are if a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, you’ll be overcome by smoke before you even know what’s going on and able to get out of the house,” said Springfield Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi.

He added that there have been multiple fires started recently by improper disposal of smoking materials. Calvi is reminding people to always get rid of cigarettes and other smoking materials safely.

Here are some ways to protect your home and family with smoke alarms, according to the CDC:

  • Smoke alarms are to placed in each part of your house such as on the outside of bedrooms, at the top of open stairs, and the base of cellar stairs of your home.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month.
  • Change batteries at least once a year. A “chirping” sound will indicate that it’s time to change 
    the batteries.
  • Smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years. Alarms are labeled with their date of manufacture. If there is no label, they are older than 10 years and must be replaced.
Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Fire Services

The Massachusetts Department of Fire services indicated the date on the back of a smoke alarm should also be reviewed to decide if it needs to be replaced. If it was made before April 1, 2012, it should be properly disposed of and replaced.

Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Fire Services

If smoke alarms are older than 10 years old or if you don’t have one, contact your local fire department to find out how to get one free.