LINKS
2010-10-06 / Front Page

Free programs help residents feel safer at home

By Laura Peters
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Lt. Jason Elmore installs a smoke detector in a county home. Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Lt. Jason Elmore installs a smoke detector in a county home. Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Fires and break-ins are two frightening experiences most people wish to never encounter. There are ways to reduce the chances of both happening with just a little bit of education, and the Chesterfield Fire and Police departments are here to help in that endeavor. Both departments offer free home evaluations to county residents.

Police department

“There are cardinal things that everybody can do to better prevent folks from breaking into their homes,” says Capt. K.C. Carr with the Chesterfield Police Department.

County residents can request a home security evaluation by the police department.

“We’ll go to individual homes that call and ask for them and try and make their home a harder target [by] looking at lighting, locks, visibility and different things in the house,” says Corp. Tim Lamb with the police department. “Lighting is a big deal as far as preventing crime. Another would be locks, [like] not having the basic construction-grade lock, but improving locks and hardware.”

“We also stress through our Neighborhood Watch program to get to know your neighbors, so they would be more willing to look out for your property. [There’s] more of an obligation to look after each other if you know the person,” Lamb says.

The police department provides assistance in starting Neighborhood Watch programs.

There’s also a program called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (EPTED) that works with businesses, shopping centers and new residential communities under construction to deter break-ins in these locations. The program looks at design elements, such as shrubbery in front of houses, window placement and indoor and outdoor lighting, according to Lamb.

Another outreach project is the police department’s citizen academies. These programs educate the public about the different areas of the police department with demonstrations and hands-on learning.

Fire department

The fire department also offers free services to county residents, including home inspections, fire and safety programs, and free installations of smoke detectors.

“In the fire and life safety division we go out and do home inspections for those who request them,” says Lt. Jason Elmore with Chesterfield Fire and EMS. “We have a lot of requests from folks who are adopting children, fostering children and for people that need a report from us.”

“We make sure that they have a home escape plan and that when they call 911, it actually works and see if the address comes up right,” continues Elmore.

During an inspection, a fire department representative checks any smoke detectors, and residents are reminded to test their detectors monthly and change batteries every six months.

“We look at their breaker panels and make sure they aren’t using extension cords in a fashion they shouldn’t be using them. We make sure they have a fire extinguisher, and educate them a little bit on some things. We go over some kitchen safety and cooking safety,” explains Elmore.

“We’re not there as an inspector because in residential houses, we don’t have the authority to make someone change something because we are going in there as a courtesy to them,” Elmore says. “So we’ll go in and try and educate.”

Get a free evaluation

For more information on receiving a free fire safety or home security evaluation, visit www.chesterfield.gov and click on “Community,” then click on “Fire and EMS” or “Police.” You may also call 318- 8699 (police) or 748-1360 (fire).

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