Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With is the theme for this year’s National Fire Prevention Week (FPW), which is October 3-9. A smoke alarm can cut the risk of dying in a reported fire by half, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPW).
Fire Prevention Week was founded nearly 90 years ago to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that occurred on October 8-9, 1871. That fire killed more than 250 people and destroyed more than 17,400 structures. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the International Fire Marshals Association proclaimed that each year, the week in October which October 9 falls, should be marked as a week to provide the public with fire prevention information. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day Proclamation in 1920 and since then, the U.S. President has signed a proclamation for FPW every year since 1925.
The theme for FPW changes each year. This year’s theme focuses on smoke alarms and encourages the public to properly install, update, and maintain their smoke alarms. According to the NFPA, nearly three-quarters of all homes nationwide have at least one working smoke alarm but according to a 2008 telephone poll, only 12% of those surveyed knew that a smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years.
If your home has a smoke alarm, it is important to change the batteries at least once a year and to test the alarms regularly to make sure they work. The NFPA states that in cases where the home had a smoke alarm that did not go off during a fire, it was because more than half of the alarms had missing batteries or were disconnected.
Tips for installing smoke detectors (provided by the San Jose Fire Department, San Jose, CA)
– For minimum protection, install smoke detectors outside each sleeping area and at least one on every level of your home-including the basement
– For maximum coverage, install smoke detectors in every bedroom and in every living area of the home
-Smoke detectors should be mounted in the middle of the ceiling
-To avoid nuisance alarms, do not install smoke detectors near heating or cooling ducts
-For wall-mounted smoke detectors, place them at least 3 feet from any corner and 4 to 6 inches from the ceiling
-Check smoke detectors every month
-If the low-battery signal begins chirping, replace the batteries immediately
-Vacuum the outside of the smoke detector periodically to remove dust particles
-If you don’t remember when you installed your smoke alarm, the SJFD recommends replacing them to ensure they work in the event of a fire.
San Jose Fire Department Smoke Detector brochure; http://www.sjfd.org/PubEd/SmokeFlyer.pdf
San Jose Fire Department Fire Safety Checklist; http://www.sjfd.org/PubEd/FireChecklist.pdf
National Fire Protection Association; http://www.nfpa.org