In a time of panic if a fire should occur in the home or office, a smoke detector provides the best protection against injury.
According to the Burn Institute in San Diego, CA, it is estimated that 75-percent of older Americans who perished in fires did not have a working smoke alarm in their home, or the smoke alarm was inoperable due to dead or missing batteries. Also According to the National Safety Council’s Accident Facts 1993 Edition, “out of an annual average of 518,300 home fires, there were 4,500 civilian fatalities, and 20,000 civilian injuries identified between 1986 and 1990. Direct property damage averaged $3,784,100,000 each year. Home fire: are most often caused by heating equipment, typically a result of problems with installation, maintenance, or misuse. The leading cause of civilian fatalities is the careless handling or improper disposal of smoking material: (e.g., cigarettes). Civilian injuries in home fire: are most often the result of cooking equipment, usually involving unattended cooking. Incendiary or suspicious causes are most often involved in property damaged to homes from fire”.
When fire occurs in your lone, your chances for survival are two times better when smoke detectors are present than when they are not. Smoke detectors, when properly installed and maintained (following manufacturer’s directions), provide early warning when fires occur. Early warning increases your chances for survival and allows the fire department to save more of your property.
To help save your life and property from fire, the following safety tips from the National Fire Information Council and the U.S. Fire Administration can assist you.
• For minimum protection, install a smoke detector outside of each bedroom or sleeping area in your home and keep your bedroom doors closed while you are asleep.
• Keep your smoke detectors properly maintained. Test them at least once each month to insure that the detectors are working properly. Batteries in battery operated detectors should be changed at least once yearly. Use only the type of batteries recommended on the detector.
• If your smoke detector sounds an alarm when no smoke is present, consult with the manufacturer or with your local fire department.
• If smoke from cooking materials causes the detector to sound an alarm, do not remove the batteries or disconnect the power source. Simply fan the smoke away from the detector until the alarm stops. If this happens frequently, it may be necessary to relocate the detector or to install a different type of detector.
• Develop an escape plan and review the plan with all members of the family frequently.
• Be aware that children an elderly people may need special assistance should fire occur.
• Establish a meeting place outside the house for all members of the family to insure that everyone got out safety.
• When fire occurs, get out of the house and use a neighbor’s telephone to notify the fire department.
• Contact your local fire department or State Fire Marshall for further information on the type of smoke detectors to use and on fire prevention and fire safety.
These websites will provide you with additional information regarding fire safety with smoke alarms and detectors.
Living in a home without smoke detectors is risky and dangerous business. Making sure that your smoke detectors is reliable and operating consistently will provide safety within your home, apartment, office and living residence.
Copyrighted by Matthew J. Key from his forthcoming book “The Safety Corner”.