The Importance of Having Smoke Detectors (Part 2)

In Smoke/CO Detectors on November 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Dear Readers,

A good friend of mine, Lt. Chuck Riesterer, recently sent the following letter to me.

Chuck is a Lieutenant with the Troy Fire Department. I am asking you all to read it because what Chuck is saying. This could indeed save your life or the lives of your family.

Lon ~

Dear Lon,

It’s not just the fact of having a smoke alarm in your home, the device has to work.  And, it is just a part of the overall plan to keep you and your family safe.  Other factors in the plan include:

  • Testing the device regularly (to ensure operation, and to orient us with the sound so we know what to do when we hear it).
  • Having a plan to escape (two ways out of every room).
  • Having a meeting place (sidewalk, tree, mailbox, etc).
  • Knowing not to re-enter until advised by the FD it is safe.
  • Calling 9-1-1 from outside the home.

There is a concern in this nation that people (kids) do not respond as well as adults to smoke alarms.  I think it is due to conditioning.  They are not well-practiced with the sound of the device.  Ask any first, third or fifth grader what they do when:

  • They hear the doorbell (answer the door).
  • They hear their cell phone ring (answer the phone).
  • They hear the microwave beep (food is ready).

They have been conditioned for this sound until it becomes second nature.  Why don’t we do this with smoke alarms?  A majority of people hear the fire alarm at work and do not vacate because:

  • It’s just a false alarm.
  • There is no plan, they’re not sure what the plan is, or they don’t know what to do.
  • And for some they don’t know what the noise is.

These are dangerous habits to develop. Over 80 percent of those that die in fires, NEVER SEE THE FIRE!  People are overcome by smoke and its by-products long before they see the flames.  The general populace is under the mistaken idea that they have minutes to escape, when in reality, they may only have seconds.  Early warning is the key!  Early warning coupled with a plan will give you a BIG advantage.

It only takes a couple of minutes to plan the correct action, and less than a couple of minutes to practice the plan.  That couple of minutes, at least once a month, may be all you need to save your life.  Install and TEST your smoke alarms regularly. Have a meeting place.  Practice your fire drills regularly. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER ignore the smoke alarm.

This past weekend we changed our clocks for daylight savings time.  Maybe we can remind folks that when they change their clocks, they could change the batteries in their smoke alarms.  The majority of homes in this country have smoke alarms.  But when was the last time you tested yours? Smoke alarms are good for an average of 10 years.  Then they need to be replaced.  Standard battery-operated smoke alarms should have their batteries replaced annually. Now is a great time to take care of that.  If you don’t know when it was replaced, replace it.  Install a working smoke alarm (one that has been tested/listed by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), Factory Mutual (FM), or Electrical Testing Labs (ETL).  Then plan a drill and test the device.  It’s only a few minutes out of your time. Time well spent for those you love.

  1. I absolutely love your blog! It is always so informative no matter what topic you cover!

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