Great time to get protected

Published 10:02 pm Monday, March 7, 2011

Having covered numerous house fires and Boy Scout events in my four and a half years here at the Suffolk News-Herald, it’s hardly a surprise to me that the Boy Scouts are trying to make home in their community safer from fires.

Troop 1929 at West End Baptist Church, a new troop in the community, is trying to offset some of its start-up expenses with a variety of fundraisers. Members are currently pushing batteries for smoke detectors, and they’ll even install them for elderly or disabled residents.

Having a working smoke detector is probably the single greatest thing anybody can do to improve his chances of surviving a home fire. Though you should also take other fire-safety steps such as having and practicing an escape plan, just having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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Last week, I talked to Cindy Fegley, one of the leaders in Troop 1929, about their newest fundraiser. The troop wanted to do something that would help them raise money and also would benefit the community.

With a number of wildfires in the community lately and the “spring forward” to daylight-saving time nearing, the troop thought it would be a good idea to remind residents to change their smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks.

“It’s an important message that we’re also trying to get out there,” Fegley told me. “Almost every day, there’s a new news story about someplace in Hampton Roads having an apartment fire or house fire.”

Coincidentally, the day after I wrote the story about the need for fresh batteries in smoke alarms, I was preparing for the day in my apartment when I heard my alarm chirp. Thinking it was just a fluke because of the shower steam, I heard it chirp again a few seconds later.

Puzzled, I took the alarm down off the wall and pushed the test button. Even though it worked as it should, I flipped it over and read the words on the back, to find that intermittent chirps mean that the battery is getting low.

Looks like I’ll be heeding the troop’s advice this week, and not a moment too soon for daylight-saving time.

The troop is selling its batteries for $10 for three, with bulk pricing available for property managers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In addition to changing the batteries, the troop will even recycle the old ones or take orders for additional smoke alarms. If the troop doesn’t visit your house, find out how to get batteries by calling 334-2464 or emailing