By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
Hundreds of senior citizens and disabled residents in the city will have an increased sense of security with light bulbs that make it easy for emergency workers to find their homes.
The Mahoning Valley Task Force on Crime and Violence Prevention has acquired 280 Beacon Bulbs to be distributed throughout the city.
The special light bulbs are designed to flash on and off in an emergency telling emergency responders where they are needed.
“A lot of these houses don’t have addresses in a prominent spot and are sometimes hard to find,” said Ricky George, task force chairman. “The benefit here is that if you call police or an ambulance, especially at night, you just hit the light switch twice, and it will start blinking.”
George said the bulbs will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to the city’s elderly and disabled residents. He said people interested in receiving one of the bulbs should contact their council representative to be placed on the list.
Distribution will begin before the end of the month.
Dr. Earl Parchia Jr., task force member, knows firsthand how beneficial the bulbs can be for those confined to home. He gave a bulb to an elderly neighbor several years ago, and the device came in handy.
He said the woman’s furnace went out at the same time her phone went dead.
It was winter, he said, and the house was getting cold with no way to signal help other than the blinking bulb installed outside the house.
He said the woman hit the switch to activate the bulb, and neighbors came to the woman’s assistance.
June Johnson, task force member, wrote the grant to acquire the bulbs.
The grant asked for $5,000 to purchase bulbs, but $2,700 from the Wean Foundation was given to make the purchase.
Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, said the bulbs will be a wonderful tool for police and firefighters, but she said there are other things that could be useful as well.
She asked task force members to look into funding to purchase fluorescent paint to paint house numbers of those who do not receive the bulbs or can’t make it to the switch to turn on the outside light.
Councilman John Swierz, D-7th, said, “As a retired firefighter, I have to say this is a great tool for police and firefighters. I can’t give any specifics, but I know people have used these. I just want to thank the task force for doing this.”
The bulbs are 60-watt bulbs that install like a normal light bulb. Each bulb is designed to last about 2,000 hours under normal use, task-force members added.