LUBBOCK, Texas — The Panhandle Plains Red Cross Chapter will install around 900 free smoke detectors to anyone on the South Plains who needs one, a staff member told KLBK News on Thursday.

The event, Sound the Alarm, will be held next Saturday, September 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Teams of volunteers will work together in homes to check the functionality of existing smoke detectors, install new ones, educate families, and help create safety plans for households — all at no cost to families.

“I don’t ever want to talk to someone who lost a person in a fire that could’ve been prevented,” said Monika Koenig, Disaster Program Manager for The American Red Cross in Lubbock. “Last year, I was the one that had to talk to parents of five dead kids- where kids died in fires. Here in Lubbock, we never had a fire where someone died where they did have a working smoke alarm. So, that’s why I’m so passionate.”

Koenig said she’s seen dozens of families displaced in apartment fires and fires that swallow trailers in under seven minutes.

The Panhandle Plains Red Cross Chapter said just because someone has a smoke detector doesn’t mean it’s working.

“Take it off the wall. Look at the back- there’s a date on it- and if it’s more than 10 years, call us, send us a message, and we’ll come by. If you’re not sure, we can also come by and check it for you,” Koenig explained.

For individuals who are hearing impaired, the Red Cross will install free bed shakers in addition to smoke detectors.

“It doesn’t cost you a dime. Do get a smoke alarm in your house. It does save lives, and do talk to your family about what happens in case of a fire, because we often [see the] husband goes out one door, wife goes out the other door, both go back in because they’re looking for each other,” she shared.

Koenig said having a plan and incorporating your loved ones can make all the difference.

“Does your family have a meeting point? Do you know that your kids might not hear a smoke alarm before they’re seven years old?” — questions Koenig suggested families take time to answer.

One volunteer, Lucy Barrington, said she’s seen the power those conversations can have.

She said she once spoke with a dad who had four kids under the age of eight and they demonstrated the proper way to escape a house fire.

“They all got down on their hands and knees, and they crawled to the front door. I was dumbfounded that the dad had prepared for this,” Barrington said, adding that a lot of families don’t take the time to have these lifesaving conversations, which is also why she continues to educate through this program.

If you are not available next Saturday to receive a free smoke alarm, the Red Cross said you can still reach out and they will find a different time to meet with you.

You can pre-register by calling the Red Cross at 806-765-6790, visiting the website here, or scanning the QR code below.

Scan QR code to pre-register for a free smoke alarm and installation.