The Rockland County Department of Health’s Healthy Neighborhood Program is providing free smoke alarms to eligible residents and has 600 available. Those who may qualify for the free smoke alarms include senior citizens, at-risk families and low-income residents. The county is asking residents to check their smoke alarms and ensure they are working in the wake of last week’s fatal house fire in New City.
To find out if they qualify, residents should call Christine Wagner at (845) 364-3292 or Shari Stopler at (845) 364-3290 at the Healthy Neighborhood Program. They will be required to schedule a brief home survey with the health department, which then will install the free smoke alarms that are equipped with batteries. The department will also assist with installing smoke detectors that are provided by residents.
“Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes without working smoke alarms,” said Kathleen M. Henry, R.N., M.A., Acting Commissioner of Health. “Having a working smoke alarm greatly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. We encourage residents to take advantage of the free smoke alarms, as we find many residents have outdated smoke alarms or no smoke alarms at all in their homes.”
The Healthy Neighborhood Program encourages residents to:
- Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old
- Change batteries in smoke alarms twice a year – each time clocks are changed, batteries should be changed
- Place smoke alarms on every level of the home including the basement, in every sleeping area and outside every sleeping area
- Never smoke in bed and do not walk away from a lit cigarette
- Do not leave food cooking unattended - a serious fire need just seconds to start
- Have the chimney inspected and cleaned before using it
- Check that the furnace and all appliances are inspected and working properly
- Make sure any space heaters are UL listed, and that the cords are not frayed and the heater is in proper working condition
- Never drape curtains or clothes over space heaters
- Develop a home fire escape plan
- Keep exits clear and free of debris
The number of smoke detectors provided to residents will be based on the number of bedrooms.
“In light of the recent increase in serious fire-related incidents in the county, I want to take this opportunity to encourage residents to correctly install smoke alarms in their homes and keep them in good working order,” said County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef on Tuesday. “Smoke alarms can alert individuals to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Fires have had devastating consequences in the county within the past 10 months. A mother and daughter died in a fast-moving fire last Thursday morning. Their Stratford Place home in New City was not equipped with smoke alarms. Earlier this month, at a Spring Valley apartment complex, the smoke alarms did not go off. 13 apartments were heavily damaged in a July 2012 Spring Valley building fire that spread while residents tried to extinguish it themselves. A New City woman was fatally trapped by fire in her New City home on Central Ave in April 2012.