ROCKWOOD (WATE) - A small town is making a big change as freezing temperatures threaten East Tennessee again.
Rockwood law enforcement is launching the "R U Safe" program after an elderly man was found earlier this month frozen to death.
The sun was shining and it was relatively warm Monday afternoon on Elm Avenue. Gene Best is all done helping elderly friends who've been having problems with their electricity.
"A lot of people don't have anyone to check on them," he said.
Sadly on the same street, there's a reminder why checking on someone can be a lifesaver. Two small memorials are now hanging on the white fence lining where Ray Knight once called home for years. The veteran in his mid-80s was found during a welfare check on January 7 frozen to death.
"We wished it and hoped it could have been prevented," said Fire Chief Mike Wertz.
So that something like this never happens again, the Rockwood Police and Fire Departments have created the R U Safe program.
"We'll drop in, check, make sure that they're OK. That they've got heat and if they're lacking in something we'll refer them to agencies or notify those agencies," said Police Chief Danny Wright.
It's a way to make sure those who need and truly want help won't fall through the cracks when it's blistering hot or below freezing.
"If we don't get a call from dispatch, or you make a call to the administrative number down here we don't know. That's what we're trying to get in place is a database," added Chief Wertz.
While the R U Safe program is free, there are some requirements.
"They have to be 65 years old, disabled, or they have to be recommended to us by an assisting agency," said Chief Wright.
To this community, R U Safe is simply added peace of mind.
"It's a small town and people try to take care of other people here," said Best.
Paperwork to sign up can be found online or at either the police or fire departments.
If you're worried about your loved ones the next few days, other counties offer welfare checks for free by calling these numbers:
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