Thousands of free smoke alarms, CO alarms delivered during Operation Save A Life

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CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The alarm sounded inside Cary's Fire Station 1 as a crowd of first responders and community partners gathered to launch the 15th year of ABC11's Operation Save A Life.

A team of firefighters rushed out to take the call as representatives from Kidde, the world's largest manufacturer of residential safety products, talked about the mission to save lives and prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning altogether.

The Mebane-based manufacturer has donated 4,000 sealed lithium battery smoke alarms and 500 carbon monoxide alarms to local fire departments in 2018.

Firefighters from across central North Carolina who loaded the boxes of alarms inside their vehicles Wednesday morning will take them back to their fire stations. From there, they will deliver and install them for free in the homes of the most vulnerable: low income families, the elderly, or other people who are at risk.

Along with installing working smoke and CO alarms in homes where they're needed, Operation Save A Life aims to educate and spread awareness of fire safety.

"People have talked about having an escape plan, knowing two ways out of every room," said Jessica Byrd, Kidde's Operation Save A Life Coordinator. "You see that at elementary schools, and it's practiced, but it's not always practiced at home. People have alarms but they don't know that they expire and that they need to be changed when they're 10 years old."

Along with Kidde and local fire departments, ABC11 partners with The Home Depot, NC Jaycee Burn Center at UNC, and Carolina Restoration Services for Operation Save A Life.

Dr. Bruce Cairns, director of the NC Jaycee Burn Center, said the best way to treat a burn is to prevent it.

"It's a lifelong problem," he said. "It changes your life in an instant, you have the scars both internally and externally, and you and your family--everyone is changed forever."

Cairns said the consistent message of fire safety from Operation Save A Life is what will make the difference in the long run and now, following a disaster like Hurricane Florence.

At least 15 patients have been treated for burns at UNC received in the wake of the storm, either by burning debris or exposure to electric wiring, Cairns said.

Two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after running their generator inside their home during the storm.

Byrd said Kidde will continue working to get more CO alarms in the homes of those who need them.

"We're seeing a larger need for carbon monoxide alarms," she said. "People are becoming more aware of what it is and knowing the only way to detect it is with a working alarm."
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