Clearly many lives were saved in the Marshall Fire because it started in the morning and residents were awake and alert to the danger. Imagine if the fire had begun at 2 a.m. How many more people might have died in their homes?
A reader suggested that community-based sirens could help to save lives, and that does sound like a good idea.
NextDoor is a great resource for alerting residents about all kinds of dangers, but it would not wake anyone up. Something like the Amber alert which makes a deafening alarm on cell phones could be effective. (I leave my cell phone on at night but it is purposely out of earshot for phone calls and text messages. I would, however, hear the loud alarm used for Amber alerts.)
The Amber alert should not itself be utilized for such a warning, because it can be silenced. If there were a separate alert for fire danger, it’s unlikely that people would silence that alert or turn off their cell phones at night.
There are, I’ve found, many seniors who have held off buying cell phones, but the existence of such an alert might inspire them to purchase one. In addition to the low-cost providers, there is a program called Lifeline that provides free cell phones to households that are on various programs such as SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, etc. Learn more at www.AssuranceWireless.com. If you are currently paying for a landline telephone, you could get rid of it and port your phone number to the free cell phone that you get with this program. The cellphone can also provide you with free internet service via a “hotspot,” allowing you to save money on broadband, too.