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Meals on Wheels recipients get educated about fire hazards
Gainesville Fire Department fire inspector Lt. David Stringer prepares to check a smoke detector inside the home of Waymon Tabor on Thursday afternoon. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Meals on Wheels recipients are getting a little more than the hot meal they’re accustomed to.

Over the next week, firefighters from Hall County and the city of Gainesville will take on the Meals on Wheels routes to get to know some of the residents while they distribute meals and boxes of donated food to 229 households.

“When the Georgia Mountain Food Bank graciously donated food boxes for our clients, I saw the opportunity to offer fire services access to the homes of some of our community’s more vulnerable citizens,” Milon Christman, Meals on Wheels Coordinator, wrote in an email.

Each senior who receives a meal through the program will also get a box of nonperishable food and a residential safety survey to help them identify potential fire hazards.

“Having this one-on-one contact with residents in their homes can result in a dramatic difference in fire prevention,” Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said in a press release.

Lt. David Gibbs, fire inspector with the Gainesville Fire Department, said he’ll check for hazards such as stacked papers and dropped electrical cords and make sure smoke alarms are working.

“It’s a great program, and it gives us a chance to meet the citizens and let them know that we care about them,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs and Gainesville Fire Marshal Chad Payne visited the home of Betty Sue Anderson in Gainesville on Thursday morning.

Payne discussed fire safety with Anderson while Gibbs replaced the batteries in her smoke alarms.

Anderson is a good example for seniors who want to keep their homes safe from fire.

Anderson said she knows how important it is to protect her home and herself from a fire and always checks the house before leaving.

“I light (candles) sometimes, but I don’t leave them on when I go anywhere. I always make sure everything is off, the stove and everything, when I go off,” Anderson said.

She has to use a walker to get around so she keeps the floors and walkways clear, which will help her to get out of the house quickly in the event of a fire. She keeps a clean house and has little clutter that could ignite and fuel a fire.

Payne said he sees this program as an opportunity to educate people who might not be able to come to some of his department’s safety demonstrations.

“We’re not going to come in anyone’s house and tell them they’re doing wrong. We want to kind of take this opportunity to educate them more,” Payne said.