THE deaths this week of a woman and her four young children should prompt homeowners to immediately check the batteries in their smoke detectors.
They are such simple devices and require little to no maintenance — other than replacing the battery every six months or so. And yet all too often we read or hear about people who died in fires where no working smoke detectors were found.
This was the case with Jeanine Bonnet, 28, and her children, ages 3 to 8. They were killed the morning after Christmas in a fire in northwest Oklahoma City. They had been living in the house only a few months. Fire officials said the house hadn't had working gas service for some time; space heaters were used instead, and one that was too close to a flammable material is what started the blaze.
Smoke detectors are vital because often it is smoke inhalation, and not the flames from a fire, that prove fatal. Would working smoke detectors have saved these five victims? It's impossible to know for sure — firefighters said the blaze was particularly intense. But the fact the detectors didn't work certainly stacked the deck against Bonnet and her children.
It's worth remembering the Oklahoma City Fire Department provides free smoke alarms to city residents who can't afford them, individuals living in homes with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The department will even install the alarms and new batteries for people who need a hand.
For assistance, stop by a local fire station or call 297-3318.
A rare victory
The state won a rare legal victory in the area of reproductive services when a federal judge nixed Planned Parenthood's attempt to keep its northeastern Oklahoma WIC contract in place. The state Health Department had pulled the contract, citing legitimate concerns over cost and efficiency. Planned Parenthood said the whole thing was political — aimed at punishing an organization for its association with abortion. Planned Parenthood doesn't have an automatic right to contract for services under the Women, Infants and Children program. The state has an obligation to scrutinize groups with which it enters contracts. If anything, political correctness would dictate that the state not target Planned Parenthood because of national repercussions. Case after case of the state defending laws restricting abortion has been lost. In this case, the state prevailed in preventing Planned Parenthood's request to block the contract termination. If politics were involved in this case, it was more on the side of Planned Parenthood's highly politicized agenda.
Where the money is
Reports of the demise of oil exploration and production in Oklahoma are greatly exaggerated. Note that we said “oil” not “oil and gas.” Exploration companies are hot on the trail of oil because that's where the money is. Natural gas prices are so depressed that it's no longer the hot commodity it was just three years ago. Oklahoma-based energy firms explore for oil and gas throughout the continent, but they aren't ignoring their own backyard. The Oklahoman's Jay Marks reports that 2012 intent-to-drill applications hit 3,912 through November, more than the entire 2011 total. To put things in perspective, the figure was 22,685 in 1981. Not long after, a boom became a bust from which the industry slowly recovered. One industry executive described current activity as “measured but steady.” That's not a term normally associated with a heritage industry known for spectacular booms and devastating busts. Measured but steady is a good thing.