Some families across the state are getting new smoke alarms in their homes free of charge. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports, alarms are helping to reduce fire-related deaths.
The Mississippi Fire Marshal is giving more than one thousand smoke alarms to families throughout the state. The alarms are provided through Vision 20/20, a nationwide program to encourage fire prevention.
Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney says properly working smoke alarms are crucial in preventing fire-related deaths.
"A smoke alarm basically wakes you up. Most people in a fire death do not die from the fire itself, they die from inhalation of smoke. When you inhale two or three breaths of smoke which is a silent killer you can't breath. It's heavier than oxygen or air and stays in your lungs and you suffocate"
There have been 16 fire-related deaths in 2017, ten of which were in buildings without operating smoke alarms. Chaney says in the past eight years, the number of those deaths has been reduced by nearly 36 percent.
More than 300 alarms have already been distributed to fire departments in Brandon, Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
Brandon Fire Chief Terry Wages says the program allows his department to inspect homes for more than just potential fire hazards.
"There's a lot of things that we can catch on these home inspections not just fire. We may go into an elderly person's home and notice that their door going out to the backyard has a loose threshold. So, the community risk reduction program is designed to try to remove any possible hazards from within homes."
Chaney says the alarms the state is distributing have batteries that last for ten years.