Rupert Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Terrorist claims eight in Panola

There is a terrorist among us. It’s killing our people at an alarming rate.

In every household, business, nook or cranny, it stealthily waits to raise its ugly head.

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It kills young, old, black, white, tan. Although it is found more frequently in homes of those on the lower end of the financial spectrum, no one is immune.

Its allies are complacence, carelessness, ignorance, low or no standards or building codes or inspections in the rural areas of county.

We have in place warriors to fight its fury. Many volunteers fight the battles whose outcome is often decided before the call to action is made.

Fire has taken eight victims in Panola County within eight months.

That’s more Panola dead from recent fire deaths than were killed in any single year of the Vietnam and Iraqi War.

No one knows better than fire fighters that extinguishing blazes is not the answer to saving lives. The answer lies in prevention.

Prevention comes in the form of education, smoke alarms that work, building codes and inspections. Of course these remedies and others require funding. Funding requires a commitment from government.

With local elections at hand, it’s a good time to make sure your local government representative or candidate knows what’s at stake.

Most of all prevention comes from vigilance.

Do you have smoke alarms?

Do they have working batteries?

Are there other fire hazards?

Is there a working fire extinguisher nearby?

As “RG” commented on website, “…while fire alarms have been provided free of charge to residents, in many cases they find upon investigation. . .that batteries have either gone dead or have been removed. . .”

What about you parent’s home or your neighbors? What about the tenants of rental property you own? Are you ignoring a potential fire trap because the remedy might be expensive? Think about it.

Everyone needs to look for fire hazards now–today. One life is too many to lose to this terrorist. Eight is absurd.

With total commitment, this war can be won.