A program is ensuring people living in rural Tri-County area are prepared for any house fires that may arise.

COEDD's Rural Fire Defense program and the Red Cross have partnered to bring the “Sound the Alarm” program to local counties. This program focuses on installing smoke alarms in homes while also taking the opportunity to teach fire safety and assist families in coming up with an escape plan.

The local Fire Departments in the Tri-County area that participate in this program are Chandler, Southwestern Lincoln County FPD No. 1, Strother, Wanette and Wewoka Fire Departments.

Susan Morris, The Regional Disaster Program Manager for Preparedness, said they plan to expand their reach and work with rural fire departments to ensure even more people are able to have smoke alarms installed in their homes by this program.

The Rural Fire Defense Program has installed smoke alarms in local homes for about six years and has been in a partnership with The American Red Cross for five years.

Since 2015, 2,073 alarms — with 1,726 of those alarms installed in Pottawatomie County alone — have been installed in the Tri-County area per the “Sound the Alarm” program. Each person who received an alarm was taught fire safety to help prepare them for any future house fires they may fall victim to.

To qualify for this program, people need to simply call their local American Red Cross office and provide some information. Then, someone will come to their home and install a smoke alarm.

While the program doesn't usually send representatives to the homes where the alarms were installed, the American Red Cross or local fire department can be contacted if someone is unable to service their alarm, and they will come service the alarms.

Smoke alarms should be checked monthly, and it is in good practice to change out the batteries in smoke alarms when the time changes in the fall and spring to ensure they are properly working.

If you or someone you know are in need of a smoke alarm, contact your local American Red Cross to begin the process of getting one installed. The South Central and Southeast Oklahoma American Red Cross office can be reached at (405) 273-8800.