The smoke detector in my house has been sitting on a garage shelf for a month now. Every time I pass, it silently calls to me, “Buy a new battery for me and put me back into service.” So far, I havenít listened.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Fire Administration, 4,000 people died from fire in 2004 and nearly 18,000 were injured. This report also concluded:
- The very young and the elderly have the highest risk of death from house fires.
- Men are more likely than women to die in a fire.
- Fire deaths are more likely to occur within a family living in poverty.
- Install smoke alarms outside every sleeping area and on every floor of a house.
- Check smoke alarms monthly.
- Replace the batteries in smoke alarms annually.
- Keep bedroom doors closed–closed doors will slow the path of smoke and fire.
- Keep walkways and exits clear from toys and other items.
- Use nightlights to illuminate key escape routes.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the house. Check this fire extinguisher regularly and replace it as necessary.
- Account for all family members including infants, elderly persons and pets, especially those who may be incapable of escaping on their own.
- Teach children how to respond in a fire.
- Establish two escape routes from each room.
- Identify where to go once outside the home.
While this study proposes a variety of reasons for these findings, the conclusion is the same–all families can take simple steps to protect themselves from fire.
The sole mission in a smoke alarmís life is to protect you and your family. More than 65 percent of fires that kill children under the age of 5 occur in homes without working smoke detectors.
Smoke and fire can spread rapidly, and family members may only have seconds to respond to a fire.
Families should develop an escape plan and practice it with all family members. This plan should:
Learn more: There is lots of information available online for families to make their home more fire safe. Take a few minutes to review sites like the U.S. Fire Administration and learn more.