Free smoke detectors could prevent next tragedy

Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 8:35pm

Local leaders believe the deaths of two young boys last December might save lives in the future.

Early Saturday morning, Mayor Leroy Sullivan and members of the city council joined first responders from the state Fire Marshal's Office, Donaldsonville Fire Department, and Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

They divvied up the names of roughly 100 people who had applied for free smoke detectors from Operation Save a Life.

"There's a lot of families, don't have a safety alarm or fire alarm," stated Rev. Charles Brown, a city council member. "And we do know that fire alarms do save lives. So we think that it's our responsibility as community leaders to do whatever we can to protect and save lives."

On December 24, 2012, a fire across the river from Donaldsonville in Darrow took the lives of two children. The family lived across the street from the volunteer fire department, but their home did not have any smoke detectors. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, people without working smoke alarms are six times more likely to die in a house fire than those who do.

"Young family-certainly we pray for them-lost two kids," Brown said. "And I think that really kinda initiated (Operation Save a Life) in our area."

Teams of two went around town, installing new smoke detectors at each stop.

The first responders also gave people tips, such as not placing smoke alarms in the kitchen. Studies show people most need the alarm when they are asleep, so detectors should be placed in bedrooms and any hallways leading to bedrooms. They also should go on the ceiling, not a wall, because smoke fills a room from the top down.

The detectors handed out Saturday have a ten year lifespan, so the recipients do not have to worry about testing them.

"Every year, whenever they got to change the batteries, some people probably just don't do it," Brown said, "and then the worst thing happens, have a fire or something, and come and find out, if they would've had a fire alarm, they could've saved a life."

Operation Save a Life is an ongoing, statewide project open to anyone who does not have working fire alarms, or who is worried about their current alarms. To apply, click here and fill out the form. 

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