By: Nancy Waddell

Photos by: Jen Blackwood

The first Saturday in May is a special day on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle WA. Hundreds of community volunteers with the non-profit organization Hearts & Hammers turn out to help residents in need fix up homes and yards.

For the third year in a row, local Red Cross volunteers joined the South Whidbey event to provide and install smoke alarms in these homes. For the first time, they worked with the Central Whidbey group this year as well.


“In addition to the installations, we also helped residents develop fire escape plans,” says Donna Winters, this year’s Red Cross organizer, “and we provided tips to get them prepared for potential earthquakes in the region.”

“Our three teams of volunteers installed 57 smoke alarms in 23 homes total,” she said. “Some of the households we assisted had alarms that were well over 10 years old, when they no longer pick up tiny particulates early in a fire. It’s important to get those older alarms replaced by the new 10-year-battery alarms we install.”

The Hearts & Hammers organizers were delighted to have the additional help from the Red Cross. “Everyone was so grateful for the assistance,” said Kathleen Jo Ryan with Central Whidbey Hearts & Hammers.


“We look forward to our ongoing partnership in the years to come,” said Matthew Swett who headed the South Whidbey H & H crews.

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign to reduce injuries and deaths from residential fires continues across the country. There are no income or age restrictions for the service. To take advantage of this offer, or to volunteer to participate in future smoke alarm install events in your area, visit soundthealarm.org or call your local Red Cross chapter.


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