With colder temperatures now arriving — and staying — in the area and home heating units kicking in to counter them, it pays to be prepared.
And you won’t have to pay for some of that preparation if you are a homeowner in the St. Albans area.
The St. Albans Fire Department has announced on its Facebook page that members of the fire department are available to visit residents’ dwellings to perform a home safety evaluation of heating appliances and supplemental heating sources.
Along with this free service, the SAFD members will supply and install smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm, as needed, also at no charge.
Open to all St. Albans city residents, the inspections and installations are made possible through grants the SAFD has received, in addition to a partnership the department has with the American Red Cross.
“A few years ago, in the space of 15 months, our city had five fire fatalities,” SAFD Fire Inspector/Investigator and Public Education Coordinator Chris Collins said last week. “Obviously, that takes a toll on the fire department and that was tough on the whole community. We realized we needed to be more proactive. We began our smoke alarm installation program, canvassed different neighborhoods and put them up.
“This went on for about a year,” Collins said. “As we learned more about the benefits of prevention and public education, the city decided to create a fire inspector/investigator and public education coordinator. In doing this, we’ve been able to grow out our programs and make them more accessible to people, and we’re able to devote more time to them.
“We realized a lot of these folks would benefit from community-oriented presentations,” Collins said, “so we decided to contact churches and civic organizations. We’re not only going into people’s homes putting up smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. We like to educate them with group presentations and home visits. Instead of simply putting up smoke alarms, we began offering education on the benefits of having those alarms and why it’s necessary to have proper placement for them. We also educate a little on how carbon monoxide is created by incomplete combustion. We talk a little bit about safety, such as keeping an eye out for improperly placed heaters and electrical cords.”
To arrange a home visit, call the SAFD at 304-727-2253 or send a message to the department via its Facebook page.
CPR/first aid class
The SAFD will also conduct a CPR/first aid class, from 6 until 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at the department station, 51 Sixth Ave. in St. Albans.
The course will cover American Heart Association guidelines for CPR and first aid. The class will offer interactive instruction and demonstrations, including scenario-based skill assessments.
For those seeking an American Heart Association certification card, the cost of Friday evening’s class is $35. If you do not require a certification card and will be taking the class for informational purposes only, the class is free.
“We think it’s a huge benefit to provide CPR and first aid classes to our community,” Collins said. “CPR is something any individual can do to save another person. We feel that providing these classes is a way to give confidence and knowledge for people to become citizen responders. Before we get there, in some instances, they can start a beginner level of care.
“For those who take the class for informational purposes, if they don’t require a certification card, we don’t charge,” he added, “because we feel like them having the initiative to take the class is a benefit to us.”
To sign up for the CPR/first aid class or obtain further information, contact SAFD Lt. Chris Collins at 304-727-2253 or 304-382-6850, or send your name and a contact telephone number through a private message at the SAFD Facebook page.
Collins said the SAFD has also acquired funds for a National Fire Protection Association initiative called Remembering When, which is aimed at preventing fires and falls for elderly people.
“A large part of our population here in St. Albans can be considered elderly, and we were awarded a grant to take a Remembering When course for our community,” Collins said. “The program focuses on 16 key risk factors, eight for fire and eight for falling, and how to mitigate these risk factors to reduce falls and fires in homes. It’s ultimately to help elderly folks live longer.”
The SAFD also offers free Stop the Bleed classes periodically, he said, which teaches laypeople skills to bring uncontrolled bleeding more into control during emergency situations.
“We feel we’ve been doing the city and the community a service and, hopefully, making our city a safer place to live,” Collins said.