Friday, February 18, 2005
Smoke detectors save crucial seconds . . . and lives
A recent news report in the Concord Journal detailed the events of a Concord family who awoke at 2 a.m. one Saturday just as flames and clouds of smoke began swirling inside their kitchen while they slept on the second floor. According to the report the mother woke up on "motherly instincts" and immediately began screaming for her husband and seven children to evacuate. The West Concord Fire station, where three firefighters stood by, was less than a minute away.
The news article goes on to describe the horrific moments as the family struggled to get out of the house before the fire progressed, trapping them. Everyone did fortunately escape safely. According to Concord Fire Chief Ken Willette, "The only smoke detector firefighters found inside the home didn't work. This family was very lucky. Smoke detectors are every family's first defense against a fire. While you sleep your nose sleeps. Early detection and early notification of smoke in a home has been proven to save lives." The Carlisle Fire Department is taking this opportunity to remind residents and homeowners of this very important life-saving device. The following fire safety information is essential to every family.
Smoke detectors save lives
When fire strikes you may have less than one minute to get safely out of your home.
• Having working smoke alarms in your home can double your chances of survival if a fire occurs.
• Home fire deaths have been cut in half since the early 1970s when smoke alarms were first marketed.
• 50% of the fire deaths that occur each year in the U.S. take place in 5% of homes without smoke alarms.
Fires produce heat, smoke and toxic gases
• Smoke alarms warn residents in the event of a fire. They give you time to leave the building before your escape route is blocked by deadly smoke, heat and toxic gases.
• Special smoke alarms are available for the hearing-impaired.
• The alarm can be wired to a light, which flashes when the detector is in alarm. A vibrating alert unit can also be used under a pillow while the person is asleep.
• Plan and practice a home fire escape route. Conduct drills frequently so actions become automatic behaviors.
• Have two ways out of every room.
• Discuss the plan so each member of the family understands what to do in case of emergency.
• Choose a place outside the home where family members can meet to be sure everyone is safely out of the building.
Practice, practice, practice
• Hold a family fire drill during the day, while everyone is awake and another one at night while children are asleep to see how they respond.
• Following the drill, make adjustments to the plan.
• Does anyone in the family, who may be too young or physically impaired, need assistance? An adult can go to his room and help that person to an alternate escape route.
• If a child sleeps through an alarm, he may need to be awakened by an adult.
• Consider purchasing a folding escape ladder as a secondary means of exit from upper floors.
When the alarm sounds:
• Leave the building.
• Get out, stay out.
• Go to the family meeting place.
• Dial 9-1-1 from a neighbor's house.
All homes need fire protection
Massachusetts law (MGL c. 148 s.26F) requires that all homes sold or transferred in Massachusetts have working smoke alarms. All newly built homes are required to have smoke alarms in accordance with the building and fire codes.
Some homes, owned by the same family for many years, may not yet have smoke alarms. Contact the Carlisle Fire Department regarding smoke detector installation locations.
General guidelines for smoke alarm placement
• On every level of your home.
• In hallways outside the bedroom.
• At the top of open stairways.
• At the base of the cellar stairs.
• Inside the bedroom for sound sleepers or smokers.
Important: Don't install smoke alarms on the wall. Contact the fire department fire prevention office at 1-978-287-0072 for exact locations. Homes that have bedrooms added or additions including some renovations require an upgrade to current code for the installation of a fire alarm system. Application for the installation of a new fire alarm system must be made with the fire department and a permit is required.
• Once a month vacuum or blow out dust from alarms.
• Push the test button.
• Change batteries at least once a year. An easy way to remember is to change the batteries when you change your clocks. A "chirping" sound indicates that it is time to change the batteries.
• Don't paint smoke alarms!
If your smoke alarms are ten years old or more it is time to replace them with new ones. There is a label on the alarm with the date of manufacture. If it does not have a label it is already more than ten years old. If you don't know how old they are, it is best to install new ones.
© 2005 The