One minute or less…that’s all the time you may have to escape a fire in your home. Do you have a smoke alarm? It can double your chances of escaping death. Home smoke detectors have cut fire fatalities in half since they came on the market in the early 1970s.
I specialize in many branches of security, and that of the home is one of them.
Fires kill about 3,000 people a year in the U.S. Forty percent of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms (4 percent!)
- · If you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one or as many as you need-today.
- · Never deactivate them while cooking.
Did you know that most fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, rather than being burned to death, even though the dead body often becomes burned to a crisp? An escape route can be blocked by thick, dangerous smoke, not plumes of fire. A smoke detector can get you responding sooner and thus avoid fatal smoke inhalation.
- · Exit the building when the alarm sounds.
- · Then stay out. (Have a post-escape family meeting place pre-determined.)
- · From a neighbor’s house call 9-1-1.
Smoke alarms can also signal a flashing light for the hearing impaired. Alarms are also available that trigger a vibration under your sleeping pillow.
The Importance of Drills
Plan an escape route, then run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include the post-exit meeting place outside.
- · Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.
- · Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the smoke alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies and pets.
- · Purchas a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.
- · Every month, clean dust from the smoke alarms and push the test button.
- · Never paint the alarm.
- · Change the batteries every time you change your clocks.
A smoke alarm that’s over 10 years old needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure how old they are, replace them.