TERRE HAUTE —
A monthly reminder from the Protect the Precious program to check smoke detector batteries will begin making a regular appearance in the Tribune-Star, accompanied by a safety tip from the Terre Haute Fire Department.
Firefighter Rich Gallagher said the goal of the Protect the Precious program is to have every Terre Haute home equipped with a working smoke detector. The program started about two years ago after a fatal house fire in which an adult and two children died. The rental house had a smoke detector, but no battery in the unit to enable it to alert the family of the fire.
Making children aware of the importance of working smoke detectors is part of the program, and last year, 2,600 calendars with safety tips were handed out to remind families to practice fire safety.
This year, firefighters will be distributing to schoolchildren sheets of yellow stickers that can be placed on the first day of each month as a reminder to “Test Smoke Detector.” Two of the stickers can be placed in March and November during the Daylight Savings time change as a reminder to “Change Your Battery.”
“One working smoke detector can double your family’s chances of survival,” says the sticker sheet, which also urges people to “Push The Button, Hug Your Children.”
“We are a very small nonprofit group made up of Terre Haute firefighters,” Gallagher explained. “We are very determined to succeed in our goals. We now have free batteries and smoke detectors at all eight stations here in Terre Haute.”
Anyone who needs a battery for their local residence can go to any fire station or the THFD headquarters on Spruce Street to request a smoke detector or replacement battery.
“There is no reason for someone not to get one if they need one,” Gallagher said. “If someone can’t come because of disability, they can call a station and we can install it for them.”
Gallagher said the industry suggestion is that smoke detector units be replaced every 10 years. Families should also practice fire drills on a regular basis, as well as have a designated meeting spot outside the home in case of a fire.
He noted that at a recent house fire south of the city on Indiana 63, the occupant told firefighters that he heard a smoke detector going off and that’s how he knew to get out of his burning home. So that incident illustrates how smoke detectors save lives, Gallagher said.
The smoke detector and battery effort relies on financial donations from individuals, businesses and the firefighters themselves, who contribute to keeping their community safe. Anyone wanting to make a donation can send funds to Protect the Precious Inc., P.O. Box 2718, Terre Haute IN, 47802.
Watch the Tribune-Star for the Protect the Precious logo, which will accompany the monthly fire safety tip and reminder to check smoke detector batteries.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa