Local agencies share cheap ways to toughen up safety at home

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Every other Saturday at Lowes in Pascagoula, Renee England helps kids build masterpieces out of wood. This Saturday, she and several children were turning colored wood, nails and illustrated stickers into fire trucks. Saturday's project was especially exciting because real firefighters sat just a few feet away.

Representatives from the Pascagoula Fire Department were showing homeowners how a few purchases now could save a lot of money, or even a life, down the road. On the table were carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

"The smoke detector is a huge, inexpensive lifesaver," said firefighter Jacob Latch. "When you're considering the price of a smoke detector to repairing your house after a house fire, it's definitely saving you a bunch of money."

The Pascagoula Fire Department was just one of many agencies participating in Lowe's company-wide Safety Saturday, an event to help homeowners bolster their homes.

"Especially in these economic times, people want to make sure that their houses are still there," said Ryan Cox, the store manager. "We've lost a lot of homes here on the Gulf Coast to disasters. So it's all the more important not to lose your health or your home to a trip and fall, to a fire hazard or not having a smoke detector that goes off right."

FEMA Representative David Kulberg showed homeowners how to use inexpensive bolts and brackets to properly protect their roofs from high wind. A homeowner can create a system of reinforcements called a "continuous load path" from the home's foundation to the rafters for several hundred dollars. Kulberg said the investment is money well-spent when winds get high.

"This is how you strengthen the home," Kulberg said. "And it can be done, certainly in new construction, but people can also retrofit their existing home and upgrade with these kinds of items."

Here are some easy home safety tips:

  • To Prevent Falls- Install grab bars in the tub and shower. Have bright lights over stairs and steps on landings.
  • To Prevent Poisonings- Keep cleaners, medicine and beauty products in a place where children can't get to them.
  • To Prevent Fires and Burns- Make sure all smoke alarms work. Hold fire drills. Install fire sprinklers into new homes. Don't leave the stove when cooking. Set hot water heater at 120 degrees farenheit.
  • To Prevent Choking and Suffocation- Keep coins, latex balloons and hard round foods away from children. They say anything that can fit through a toilet paper tube can threaten a child. Also, place babies to sleep on their backs, and don't surround them with pillows, blankets or comforters.
  • To Prevent Drowning- Watch children carefully and stay closeby when they're near water. They say even a bucket of water can pose a threat to a child.

They all say with a little work and a little cash, you can toughen up your home to keep you safer, no matter what.

"A lot of these items are very inexpensive, and it's worth it," Cox said. "In the long-run, it's definitely worth it to have those items in place."

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