Winter Fire Safety Series: Smoke Alarms

This blog is the fifth in a multipart series directed towards fire safety and prevention for the winter season. In this blog, smoke alarms will be briefly discussed and will be accompanied by a list of suggestions for the proper installation and maintenance of the smoke alarms within your home.

Recently, a mother was killed and her son was seriously burned in an apartment fire. Investigators concluded that some of the smoke alarms had been deactivate why others had their batteries removed. If the alarms had not been deactivated it is likely that the woman would still be alive today. True, smoke alarms can go off at random times, but that just means that they are working.

About two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarms or deactivated smoke alarms. Ninety percent of people found in a fire appear to be sleeping, this is because one cannot smell smoke while asleep. Thus, smoke detectors are essential to home safety. Statistics show that the presence of properly maintained smoke alarms within a home increases its residents' chances of survival by fifty percent.

Following these suggestions for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms could save the lives of you and the members of your family:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and follow the manufacturers instructions when installing.
  • If you sleep with the bedroom door closed, a smoke alarm should be installed inside your bedroom.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested once per month, and any old batteries should be replaced.
  • Remind everyone in your household to leave working batteries in smoke alarms. Resist the temptation to remove them or to borrow the batteries for other purposes.

Remember: Smoke alarms will not prevent a fire, but the do increase your chances of survival should a fire occur. Again, a smoke alarm more than doubles your chances of survival.

Also, when purchasing a smoke alarm, look for one with a loud alarm-the more annoying the better it will be for waking up you and your family in the event of a fire. The fire alarm should also have a hush feature, an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) listing, a malfunction indicator, and a ten-year battery. There are also a number of models of smoke alarms available for the hearing impaired.

The sooner you are alerted to a fire, the more likely you are to get out in time and contact the fire department. Having a working fire alarm, along with a family exit drill plan, is necessary within every household. It is too late to establish a fire escape plan after a fire has already begun and the alarms have already sounded.

A fire alarm will not save your life if you have removed its battery.

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