CHESTERVILLE – More than sixty free smoke alarms were installed in nineteen homes in Chesterville, Industry, and Wilton Saturday morning.
This event was hosted by the American Red Cross, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Chesterville and Industry Fire Departments. In addition to having smoke alarms installed in the appropriate locations throughout the home, participants had the opportunity to review fire prevention and safety measures with the volunteer teams.
Volunteers gathered at the Chesterville Town Office for a brief training with Red Cross volunteers. This included training on the documentation the Red Cross collects for each installation; the recommended placement and number of smoke alarms in the home; and how to help residents identify a safe exit plan in the event of a fire.
After the training, four teams went out to the nineteen homes that had signed up for the program. Each team had an experienced Red Cross volunteer along with one or more members of the DAR, with local firefighters assisting as well.
The smoke detectors that were installed were Kidde units with a sealed Lithium battery. This eliminates the hassle of changing batteries and allows the unit to be installed independent of the home’s electrical system. The units have a ten year life and the only maintenance necessary is to test the smoke alarm on a regular basis.
Volunteers were directed to install units in three key areas: living spaces, bedrooms, and basements if the residence had one. Units should be mounted near the ceiling and away from kitchen stoves or heating elements to minimize false alarms from normal activities. The recommendation is three units per home, although the size of the home can make a difference.
Red Cross volunteer Loraine Duclos explained that bed shaker alarms and other specialized alarms for those who are deaf or hearing impaired can be provided through the Red Cross, but it requires a separate visit as those alarms are more complicated to install.
While volunteers installed the smoke alarms, others would complete the documentation for the Red Cross, which provides demographics and how many people were served by the installation. Another volunteer would work with the homeowner directly to discuss fire prevention and safety measures. This could include creating a fire escape plan for each space in the home, including basements or attics; covering fire prevention tips and making recommendations based on best practices; and answering questions and concerns the residents may have.
National Fire Prevention Week was October 8 – 14 this year, and October is often called Fire Prevention Month. This is a time when public safety organizations focus on fire prevention and safety tips, conduct school visits to meet with younger members of the community, and engage in other public awareness campaigns and goals.
Some fire safety tips include:
– Know an escape route from every room in the house for safe evacuation
– Identify a meeting place away from the house for the entire household to gather after an evacuation
– Practice home fire drills, just like kids practice fire drills at school
– Test and update smoke alarms
– Maintain safety around heating sources, which can include establishing a clear zone around stoves and heating elements, making sure heating elements are in good repair, ensuring electrical heaters are plugged directly into the wall outlet and not into a power strip or extension cord, and keeping flammable items including clothing and pet hair away from heat sources.
This is also a good time to check out any carbon monoxide detectors, explosive gas detectors, and fire extinguishers in the home and see if they need to be updated or replaced.
While the Daughters of the American Revolution – Colonial Daughters Chapter helped facilitate Saturday’s event, the Red Cross will work with any group or organization that wants to host an installation event in their community. For more information or to contact the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org