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The Sound You Never Want to Hear, But Are Grateful You Did

The piercing sound of your smoke detector goes off. Your bedroom is filling with smoke. You have two minutes to get out of your house before the smoke will impact your ability to breathe. Do you know how to exit your home? Do you have a working fire extinguisher within reach? Imagine the scenario without having a smoke detector.

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities’ Safe at Home Program is designed to prevent falls and ensure the safety of homes of residents with disabilities, 55 years and older. One of the quickest modifications we perform to make a home safer is to ensure that there are enough working smoke detectors in a home. This year, we are partnering with the American Red Cross serving the Twin Cities Area’s “Home Fire Campaign,” which is providing ten-year smoke detectors and safety education material at no cost to help prepare homeowners in the event of a fire.

As an AmeriCorps Project Coordinator, I speak to many homeowners that haven’t updated their smoke detectors in years or are unable to change the batteries. Some have fire extinguishers that are 20 plus years old. This leaves many residents vulnerable in the event of a home fire. I encourage everyone to make sure that they have working smoke detectors, an accessible fire extinguisher, and an escape plan. As a former Conservation Corps member who served on fire base camps and a survivor of a workplace fire, I know how quickly you must react when dealing with fire at any size. Although, the sound of an alarm is jarring and still startles me to this day, I am grateful for that tiny, round device.

For more information on smoke detectors and fire safety, please visit:

Author Krista Yamashita is currently serving as an AmeriCorps CapacityCorps member with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities.