Dozens of Dawson County residents had a surprise visitor at their front doors last week as Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine joined local emergency personnel to install free smoke detectors in area homes.
“As temperatures go down, the number of home fires tends to go up. Please keep safety in mind while you’re keeping warm,” Oxendine said in a statement.
In an effort to ensure all homes in Dawson County are equipped with working smoke detectors, the group went door-to-door to homes in the Jenkins Road area Nov. 20 and installed more than 30 smoke detectors. The group also changed batteries in 10 smoke detectors previously installed in the homes.
“Smoke alarms save lives, provide warning and minimize property damage. Of course if your smoke alarm isn’t working, it won’t do any of this,” said Tim Satterfield, deputy chief of Dawson County Emergency Services.
Most fatal fires start between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while families are asleep. The advance warning of a smoke alarm may mean the difference between life and death, Oxendine said.
Since beginning the initiative in 2007, Dawson County Emergency Services has distributed and installed more than 300 smoke detectors to Dawson County homes and businesses.
The National Fire Council estimates about 94 percent of all homes in the U.S. have at least one smoke alarm, although half to a third are not operable due to expired or missing batteries.
“When we respond to calls, we’re also checking to see that they have smoke detectors. If they don’t, we’ll give them one and install it if they want us to,” Satterfield said.
Last year, Dawson County Emergency Services received a donation of over 500 batteries for smoke detectors from Eveready, and purchased hundreds of smoke detectors with grant money and fundraising efforts, including the department’s annual boot drive.
Satterfield said his goal is to visit every home in Dawson County. “Even if it takes another year, we’ll go to every home in the county,” he said.
For more information about the program, call (706) 344-3675.