Autumn points to the need for fire safety

Published 2:26 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

As the warm days of summer slip away and autumn more and more makes its appearance, it will soon begin to feel like autumn as cooler days and nights settle in. It will soon be sweater weather, and some days chilly enough for a coat, which means the thermostat will be switched from cool to heat.
Every year at this time National Fire Prevention Weeks rolls around. This year, Fire Prevention Week is recognized from October 3-9 and seeks to educate the public about the sounds of smoke alarms, what they mean, and how to respond to them.
According to the latest NFPA “Smoke Alarms in the U.S.” report, working smoke alarms in the home reduce the risk of dying in a reported fire by more than half. However, almost three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms (41 percent) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16 percent).
Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Because of this the NFPA recommends a working smoke alarm in each sleeping area. If you are unable to do this, at least one on each floor is better than no smoke detectors.
In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.
Missing or non-functional power sources, including missing or disconnected batteries, dead batteries, and disconnected hardwired alarms, or other AC power issues, are the most common factors when smoke alarms fail to operate.
People tend to remove smoke alarm batteries or dismantle alarms altogether when the alarm begins to chirp as a result of low batteries or the alarm is no longer working properly, or when experiencing nuisance alarms. These behaviors present serious risks to safety that can have tragic consequences in the event of a fire.
The key points of “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” include:
• Respond immediately to smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarm sound by exiting the home
• If your alarm begins to chirp, it may mean the batteries need to be replaced or the alarm replaced altogether
• Test all smoke and CO alarms on a monthly basis
• Install a bed shaker and strobe light alarms if someone in your household is deaf or hard of hearing
• Know the difference between the sound of a smoke alarm and a CO alarm — three beeps for smoke, four beeps for CO
As we enter another heating season, and get ready for the holidays, we should take this time to think about what we can do to prevent fires in our homes. We urge you to inspect your home for fire hazards. Check your smoke alarms and change the batteries. Plan escape routes. Talk to your kids about what to do if a fire breaks out. National Fire Prevention Week has never been more timely.