Johnnie St. Vrain: Do Longmont Emergency Responders Access Lock Boxes to Avoid Busting Down Doors?
Dear Johnnie: My sainted, eighty-something mother lives alone, and happily so. She’s less than two miles away from me. Nevertheless, if she had an emergency, it would be lots better for her to call 911 directly, instead of me. But if she couldn’t get to her front door to unlock it, the police, fire or ambulance responders would have to break it down. In TV commercials for seniors’ emergency-alert pendants and such, I’ve seen mention of a key lock box for your front doorknob for emergency responders. They could use it to get into her house. Does Longmont police, fire and ambulance have that kind of a key lock box? One that only could open to get a key? And hack-proof, so that nobody else could open it?
Thanks, Saving Mom’s Front Door
Dear Saving: I’m really glad you asked, because mothers, fathers, grandmas and grandpas in Longmont do not have to suffer a broken down door during medical emergencies at their homes.
That’s thanks to a program supported by Meals on Wheels and Longmont realtor Wendy Conder, who donated some lock boxes with the situation you brought up in mind, according to Longmont Fire spokeswoman Molly Cropp.
“We have ‘installed’ — they are easily removed if someone no longer wants or needs to participate — approximately 175 lock boxes in Longmont,” Cropp said.
The only cost to a participant in the program is that of a spare key, which has to be given to the Longmont Fire Department so firefighters can stash the key inside the lock box, archive the code to unlock it in their system that only they can access, and place the box somewhere on the property that only they know for use strictly in emergencies.
But Cropp said forced entries are not common, estimating there are less than 10 total resulting from Longmont Fire dispatches each year — the city’s fire and police departments do not track forced entries.
“I listen to the police radio all during my work days,” Longmont police Cmdr. Joel Post said. “I do not recall any broken door to gain access cases. There may be some but I don’t recall.”
Just in case you still think that could happen to you or your family member, though, you can get a lock box by applying for one through the Meals on Wheels website at longmontmeals.org/lock-box-program.html . Although that website says you need to live alone or be left alone regularly in order to get a free lock box, that is not an absolute requirement for the program, according to Cropp.
“There are lots of couples that participate in the program and we don’t want them to feel that they cannot apply,” Cropp said.
You also don’t have to be a Meals on Wheels participant to enter the lock box program.
Call Meals on Wheels at 303-772-0540 to learn more about the free lock boxes.
Send questions to email@example.com .