Long Island Red Cross volunteers Bob Rathbone and Luisa Gedicks...

Long Island Red Cross volunteers Bob Rathbone and Luisa Gedicks install a smoke alarm inside a home in Hempstead on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

When Ramona Perry-Jones and her family moved into their Hempstead home in November, it had everything they could have wanted: recently renovated rooms, hardwood floors, plenty of space.

All that was missing were smoke detectors.

That changed Saturday. Perry-Jones’ California Avenue house was one of about 40 homes Long Island Red Cross volunteers visited in the Hempstead area to install free detectors and promote fire safety.

The outreach is a part of a national program, with Long Island’s Red Cross previously visiting neighborhoods in Freeport, Huntington Station and Patchogue, among others.

Greg Wayrich, the Long Island branch’s disaster program manager, said the group aims to install about 200 devices a month.

“The No. 1 disaster we respond to is home fires,” said Long Island Red Cross interim CEO Liz Barker. “People think they have five to seven minutes to get out of the house but really studies show it’s about 2 minutes, so that first alert is really important.”

Perry-Jones, 57, said the previous houses she lived in already had detectors when she moved in, so she wasn’t thinking about installing them in her new home.

A few months ago, a news broadcast about the Red Cross program caught her attention. “I made a note and forgot all about it,” she said.

She was reminded while shopping at Target, when she passed the smoke detector aisle. Then a card announcing the Red Cross’ Hempstead project came in the mail and she gave the organization a call.

Each free detector has a 10-year battery. Red Cross officials said volunteers also left fire safety handouts and magnets at homes.

Cherylann Wardlow, 66, already had two detectors in her West Marshall Street home, but recent house fires in the area prompted her to add another.

“In the wake of these fires, you just can’t be too secure or too safe,” she said.

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