Having a Smoke Alarm Isn’t Enough
A recent study in Public Health Reports reported that 95% of surveyed households had at least one installed smoke alarm.
At virtually the same time, NFPA Journal reported the deaths of nine children and one adult in a fire--in a building with two installed smoke alarms.
These two stories, one encouraging and one dismaying, show the danger of believing that if we just install a smoke alarm, our family is safe.
Here’s what went wrong in that tragic fire:
• There were no batteries in either of the two smoke alarms.
• Three of the adults in the home tried to douse the fire themselves before calling
9-1-1, delaying the fire department’s response.
Your smoke alarm can only alert you if it’s working.
• The same Public Health Reports study found that only 15% of households tested their alarms once a month.
• During visits to homes equipped with at least one installed smoke alarm, it was found that in 1 of every 5 homes, not a single alarm was working.
• Non-working alarms are usually due to missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
• (link to Is Your Smoke Alarm Working?)
A working smoke alarm can only protect you if you get out when it sounds.
• Don’t delay.
• Have an escape plan and practice it. Only 52% of homes reported having a fire escape plan. Even fewer, 16% of homes with such a plan, reported practicing it every six months, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Fire Protection Association.
Getting out only protects you if you stay out.
• As part of your home exit plan, have an outside meeting place. Don’t go back inside for anything.
• When the fire service arrives, tell them:
o If everyone is outside and at the meeting place.
o Anything you know about how the fire started and its location.
o About any pets that may still be inside (link to Get Out! Stay Out!).
For Fireproof Children/Prevention First's tips on creating your escape plan: Are You Prepared?
© Fireproof Children /Prevention First 2005. One Grove Street, Suite
235. Pittsford, NY 14534