American Red Cross to provide free smoke alarms in Henleyfield

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Residents of the Henleyfield area of Pearl River County will be among those eligible for free smoke detectors under a nationwide campaign by the American Red Cross and local fire departments.

The effort installed about 50 smoke detectors in the Picayune area last year, said John McFarland, executive director of the Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The effort installed more than 5,000 detectors in “vulnerable” homes statewide in the past 12 months and canvassed more than 10,000 homes, identified by fire marshals as areas of greatest need.

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“Fire departments really guide us to the areas of need,” McFarland said.

The American Red Cross is seeking volunteers to help canvass the Henleyfield area on Saturday, Sept. 24, to distribute home safety tips and check for the presence of working smoke alarms. People who would like to help should meet at 8 a.m. at the fire station at 5585 Highway 43 in Carriere.

Residents who would like to schedule a smoke alarm installation in their home and volunteers with questions should call the American Red Cross at 228-896-4511. The campaign is focused on reaching out to senior citizens and low-income residents, McFarland said.

Among the safety tips the American Red Cross stresses in its outreach is the necessity of keeping working batteries in smoke detectors and making sure the smoke detectors are functioning, McFarland said.

“These devices are not good forever, and it’s a good idea to replace them every 10 years. What we encourage people to do is change the batteries twice a year, when we change to daylight saving time and back.”

The smoke alarms being installed under the program are manufactured by Kidde and are good for 10 years, he said. While the batteries in those devices are designed to last longer than standard batteries, residents should replace them on schedule to ensure their devices will work.

The installations are part of a national campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from house fires. Other counties being served in the upcoming effort are Harrison and Jackson counties.

With winter coming, the campaign’s outreach in the state’s southernmost counties is well-timed, McFarland said.

“In northern Mississippi they get more of a winter, so they’re prepared for it,” he said. “The biggest danger of fire in southern Mississippi comes from the use of space heaters.”