Cairo residents get much needed smoke detectors

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - The loud beeping from a smoke alarm is never a pleasant sound but it helps saves lives.

It's a noise that indicates there is smoke and fire and to get out.

Cairo residents got some peace of mind today as the American Red Cross teamed up with Cairo Fire Department firefighters and members from the Cairo High School Beta Club to go door to door and installing smoke detectors in homes for free on Saturday.

"It's good to see the community coming out and helping the community," Cairo resident Gerald Watkins Jr. said. "I think it's fantastic. The kids are getting involved. Red Cross is showing a lot of attention. I think it's great."

The American Red Cross set up a campaign years ago to help go to homes and install smoke detectors for free. It helps those people get out and reduces fatalities. It's a campaign that has saved hundreds of lives across the nation.

"It's a very comforting number knowing that we're saving any number of lives with this campaign," American Red Cross Southeast Missouri Executive Director Julian Watkins said. "If we work a countless number of hours and save one life from this campaign then we've done our job. 303 is just an amazing number."

In 2017, the Southeast Missouri Red Cross chapter responded to 11 houses that caught fire and helped 18 people with food, shelter and comfort.

"We've done some statistics and found that Cairo is highly likely to have fires and one of the least likely places to have smoke alarms," Julian Watkins said. "That's why we're working to get smoke alarms in communities to make sure we keep everybody safe here."

"It's something they need," American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Nic Nunn-Faron added. "The residents realized that it is a needed commodity here in the community. Cairo is one of the highest fire risk communities in the Midwest. And actually one of the highest in the country as well."

Gerald Watkins let volunteers come into his home to set up the smoke alarms in certain areas of the house.

"You never really think about it, where exactly your fire alarms need to be," Gerald said. "I think it's great to actually people who know what they're doing come in and put them in for you."

Gerald said he hopes this is something that could help the residents feel more comfortable and help boost the desire for those who want to stay or move into the community.

"It's great to see that there is something being done with our city that would hopefully encourage people to stay or even come back," Gerald added.

For Julian, he is from Cairo and feels this is a golden opportunity to help his family and friends that live here.

"I have a huge love for the city of Cairo, IL, I've coached here and been kind of a mentor around the area for a long time," Julian said. "It's nice to get back and give back to the community and keep everybody safe."

If you missed your opportunity to have smoke detectors installed, volunteers left a tag on the door for information of where to visit and call to set up an appointment.

For more information or to set up an appointment, you can go to the American Red Cross's website at redcross.org/homefires or call (573) 833-4889.

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