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Learning Lessons from Loss: Detroit Grandmother Pushes for Fire Safety

Lisa Lipscomb’s devastating loss inspires fire prevention education.

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“I heard about fire safety for most of my life. It isn’t enough to hear it; you have to share what you know,” she wrote to friends on Facebook. “I shared this message the other day and I’m posting it again ... ”

She made a simple request, asking readers to install smoke detectors in their homes—one in each bedroom—and keep working batteries in them.

Lipscomb reminded them to check their children’s rooms, too.

She implored friends, associates and family to get up from whatever they were doing to test their detectors immediately, and go out and buy new nine-volt batteries for them.

Lipscomb made a note to self: Get people to donate smoke detectors and nine-volt batteries.

Last month, she invited Detroit firefighters to visit her school to discuss the dangers of space heaters and dried Christmas trees.

She continued asking people to check their detectors.

They wrote her back.

“Bought new batteries yesterday. Thanks,” one woman replied. “Changed batteries yesterday,” said another. “Just bought six detectors today,” a man shared.

“I wish I could have gone into my granddaughter’s apartment and noticed that the smoke detectors were not up,” she says. “I just wish that someone would have noticed and someone would have said, ‘Where are the smoke detectors?’—or someone would have pressed the test button. It would have spared three lives, and the life of an 11-month-old baby who never got a birthday. It’s so unfair.”

Lipscomb has found strength in the flood of support and comfort from family and friends, but memories of Abreeona make her smile.

“She was the sweetest baby. She rarely cried. She was always happy,” Lipscomb says. “As loving as she was, if there was anything close to being an angel, it felt like she was it.”

Her loss is still so fresh, and that’s why Lipscomb hopes someone has ears to hear her message before it’s too late for them—or their beloved.

“I hope I can say something to save someone else from this mountain of heartache.”

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