Oct. 3 through 9 was Fire Prevention Week, and this year's focus has been on smoke alarms.
Testing smoke alarms may sound like basic advise, but this lesson can save lives. All too often the presence of a working smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death.
However, despite the fact that smoke alarms are widely popular, roughly 70 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarm.
Because fire can spread through a home so quickly, it is essential that everyone in your family be able to recognize the sound of the alarm and have a plan for getting out safety. We've even got special smoke alarm tips for kids, older adults and people with disabilities.
Smoke alarms are the fire safety success story of the 20th century, but they cannot save your life if they're not working. Test your smoke alarm today. It could make all the difference.
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,00 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began Oct. 8, 1871, but continued into and did most of its damage Oct. 9.
Knowing the facts is the key to safety:
In 2003, 79 percent of the fires in the United States occurred in the home, resulting in 3,925 fire deaths, compared to 2,670 reported fire deaths in 2002.
In the United States, someone dies in from a home fire roughly every 134 minutes.
Roughly half of all home fire deaths in the United States resulted from fires that were reported between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Although children 5 and under make up about 9 percent of the country's population, they account for 17 percent of the home fire deaths.
Since the 1970s, when smoke alarms first became widely available to households in the United States, the home fire death rate has been reduced by half.
Nineteen of every 20 homes (95 percent) in the United States have at least one smoke alarm.
More than half of home fire deaths result from fires in the 5 percent of homes with no smoke alarms.
In one-quarter of the reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work, most often because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries.
Smoke alarms that are 10 years old have a 30 percent chance of failing to work properly and should be replaced.
This column was provided by Central Emergency Services. If you have a question for a law enforcement or emergency services agency, mail it to P.O. Box 3009, Kenai, AK 99611, e-mail the Clarion at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 283-7551 or fax 283-3299.
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