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Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, installation to Lake County residences

Even with the American Red Cross currently focused on providing relief to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, local smoke alarm installations are still going strong.

Since this summer, Lake County has partnered with the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms in residences in the Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Finland areas.

Fewer than half of Minnesota homes have working smoke alarms. Because victims of home fires often have less than two minutes to escape, smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference. The Red Cross is working to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by 25 percent by 2020.

"The Red Cross provides the free smoke alarms and local groups volunteer to install them at no cost," said BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Manager. "In Two Harbors, contact Tim Fischer, Two Harbors Federal Credit Union, at (218) 834-2266 to have the Rotary Club install them, or if you want to install them yourself, you can request them from the Two Harbors Fire Department. In the Silver Bay area, call (218) 226-4444, and the fire department or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will install them for you."

Outside these areas, people can contact the Red Cross directly to request smoke alarm installations by calling (612) 460-3674 with their name, address and phone, or text "alarm" to (844) 811-0100.

Many people think that if they test their smoke alarm monthly and it beeps, it's still good. But that only tests the battery, not the smoke sensor which needs to be replaced every 10 years. Red Cross alarms have 10 year batteries that never need replacing. Red Cross smoke alarms have already saved lives in northern Minnesota and it's only a phone call away.

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