Arkansas Bikers Aiming Towards Education (ABATE) Blackjack District 21 are ready to serve their fellow man with the help of the Helena-West Helena Fire Department.

Arkansas Bikers Aiming Towards Education (ABATE) Blackjack District 21, the Helena-West Helena Fire Department and the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging are pooling their resources to provide smoke alarms to 272 disabled and elderly people in Phillips County.
Sadie Barnes, a case manager with EAAAA, explained that the 272 people served by the EAAAA, were without any sort of smoke or carbon monoxide apparatus in their home.
“Our concerns are that many of our clients could benefit by having a smoke/carbon monoxide detector in their home, but do not posses one for what ever reason. All of our clients are physically disabled and range in ages from 21 to late 90s. A majority of them are bed bound and need a great deal of notice before beginning motion,” she said. She added that many need help to move around.
“To have this forewarning device would be a tremendous aide because it would allow them to elicit the help of family members, neighbors, or even grant them time to remove themselves from impending danger,” continued Barnes.
ABATE members feel that acquiring the 272 detectors would not be difficult and already have several commitments and funds from the community to help meet the need, including the Helena-West Helena Fire Department, Wal-Mart, H&M Lumber, Coco Distributing, Queen of Clubs, ABATE District 21 and other citizens. 
Lt. Pervis Watson and firefighters Roosevelt Eaton and Derrick Fluker addressed the
membership Wednesday night, pledging funds, free installation of the detectors and helping educate those in the household the best escape route from their home. 
ABATE has filled out an application with the National S.A.F.E. Home Foundation, Inc. for alarms. 
The average cost of a smoke detector is $17.95.  

Watson reminded the members that fires happen all year but especially in the summer when children are out of school.
Watson said that in November 2008, the three people who died in fires did not have a smoke detector in their homes.  He said that one victim was less than five feet from the door.
Watson said that installing a smoke alarm is easy, “unless you’re elderly or disabled.”
He suggested not installing burglar bars on your windows or placing objects that block windows, since the window may be the only way out of the home.
“Think about your life first. I know you want to keep them (criminals or burglars) out but...,” said Watson.
He and the fire fighters gave some good advice about smoke detectors and included the following tips:
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. For extra safety, install smoke alarms inside and outside children’s sleeping areas.
• If your smoke alarms are wired into the electrical system, you will need to have a qualified electrician do the initial installation or install replacements.
• If you are uncomfortable standing on a ladder, ask a relative or friend for help. Some fire departments will install a smoke alarm in your home for you. Call your local fire department (on a non-emergency telephone number) if you have problems installing a smoke alarm.
• In standard type battery-powered smoke alarms, the batteries need to be replaced at least once a year. The whole unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
Watson said they teach children to remind the head of the household to change the smoke alarm battery on that person’s birthday.
“That’s what we’re teaching the children,” he remarked.
He said make sure your family has more than one escape plan from the home.
Plan and practice escape plans several times a year and make sure the whole family knows the plan.  Watson stressed the importance of fire extinguishers and keeping the smoke alarm clean, especially in kitchens where grease and dust are more likely to collect.
ABATE, EAAAA and the H-WHFD plan to start installing the smoke alarms in April.  ABATE is looking for more fire departments to help implement their latest community service project.  If you would like to donate to the project or volunteer, please contact Wayne Webb, president, at 995-0600 or any ABATE member.