The Red Cross reported that if all US homes had working smoke alarms, nearly 900 lives could be saved from home fire deaths annually. All homes should have working smoke detectors installed. You should test your smoke detectors every month to ensure they’re in proper working condition, and change the batteries every six months. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries during Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to replace the batteries.
Sometimes the smoke from a house fire is more dangerous than the fire itself. When you are setting up your smoke detectors, you should also be making a plan to evacuate, should you need to. Here are some tips regarding smoke detectors and ways to keep your home safer if there were to be a house fire:
- Put smoke detectors in every bedroom and spaced throughout the home. Even very small homes will have up to four smoke detectors
- Press the test button monthly to ensure they sound off
- Keep yours up-to-date as the technology improves to provide better detectors
- Place the smoke detectors high up as smoke rises
- Place a smoke detector in the kitchen at least 10 feet away from any kitchen appliances
- Keep doors in the house closed so that if there were a house fire, the smoke would not spread into bedrooms
- Get strobe lights or bed shakers for those who are hard of hearing or deaf
- Replace smoke detectors every ten years
If a home does not have a smoke detector, they are more likely to have house fire deaths. Most of the house fire deaths occurred in homes where they did not have smoke detectors or their smoke detectors were not operating as they should be. There is true value in having smoke detectors properly placed in your home.
Having an escape plan is also vital to everyone’s safety and survival in case of a house fire. If there are deep sleepers in the house who won’t stir at a fire alarm going off, you should designate someone in the house to alert the others. Your escape plan could be simple if everyone can easily access outside of the home from a bedroom window.
To better ensure the success of an escape plan, it is ideal to practice it.
You can sit down with your family today to create a plan to escape in the event of a fire. Here is what you should do:
- Find two ways for each person to get out of the house in case one way is impossible
- Determine where everyone will congregate once they escape from the house so you can do a head count of everyone; this could be a street corner, tree, or designated neighbor’s lawn
- Designate a person who would be able to carry out an infant, handicapped or elderly family member
- Keep the escape routes clear and check that windows can be easily accessed and opened
The Red Cross sponsors Sound the Alarm events, where they install free smoke alarms and share safety information for at-risk communities.
For more information contact www.redcross.org