NEWS

Fire prevention week helps families get game plans - Annual awareness week to be observed Oct. 4-10

Leslie D, Rose

     Did you know that roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep?

     Smoke alarms save lives. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. In fact, having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half.

     But lots of people don’t consider fire safety because it seems like the chances are having a fire in the home are slime – but the chances are actually quite high.

     In 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,755 deaths, 12,200 civilian injuries, and $7.0 billion in direct damage

     The key message of this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, Oct. 4-10, is to install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. Larger homes may need more alarms.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that is NFPA is excited to share this important information so everyone better understands the life-saving value of home smoke alarms.

     According to ConsumerReports.org, you can buy smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms at hardware and home-improvement stores and online. Smoke alarms are relatively inexpensive, starting at about $15 for basic models. CO alarms cost $35 and up. Check the package to make sure smoke alarms meet Underwriters Laboratories Standard 217 and CO alarms meet UL Standard 2034. Also look up the date of manufacture on the back of the alarms. These devices lose their sensitivity over time, so the fresher, the better.

Do your homework

Before you shop, check your town's or county's regulations. Details such as types of alarms and placement differ from one jurisdiction to another. Also contact your insurance company. Some insurers offer a 5 percent discount for homes with smoke alarms.

Proper installation and maintenance are critical

Follow the instructions in the owner's manuals. A few rules of thumb: Smoke rises, so mount smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. To avoid false alarms, don't mount ionization smoke alarms in the kitchen, where burnt toast might set them off, or near sources of steam such as a bathroom, laundry room, or sauna. Don't install CO units in the kitchen or near any cooking appliance, in the garage, or near the furnace or water heater. And avoid breezy areas-around fans, vents, air conditioners, doors, and open windows, where fresh air can cause a misleadingly low CO reading. Keep CO alarms out of direct sunlight.

Test smoke and CO alarms weekly and vacuum them monthly. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on battery replacement. Alarms have a limited useful life. Replace CO alarms every five years and smoke alarms every 10 years. In addition, prepare a plan of evacuation in case of a fire or CO emergency, and have everyone in the family practice it like a fire drill every few months.

For more information about fire saftey and preventation, NFPA.org.