Don’t Forget Fire Safety This Holiday Season
When was the last time you tested the smoke alarms in your home? Was it last week? Last month? A year ago?
If you’re like many people, you may not even remember. Smoke alarms have become such a common feature of U.S. households that they’re often taken for granted, and aren’t tested and maintained as they should be.
However, working smoke alarms are a critical fire safety tool that can mean the difference between life and death in a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association smoke alarms can cut the chance of dying in a home fire in half. Meanwhile, NFPA data shows that home fires killed more than 2,300 people in 2012; many of these deaths could have been prevented with the proper smoke alarm protection.
As a member of the fire service for many years, I’ve seen the devastating effects of fire first-hand – the mental and physical trauma and the loss of homes and possessions are distressing. What’s even worse is a family’s anguish after a loved one has been killed in a fire. That heartbreak was especially present in October when 15 people died in fires in Pennsylvania.
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and festivities of the holidays, but don’t forget to follow some basic fire safety rules. Before putting up your lights, inspect each cord closely and discard any that are frayed or damaged. Never put extension cords for lights under rugs or carpets. If you enjoy a real tree in your home, make sure it’s watered daily. Avoid placing your tree near any ignition source such as fireplaces, heaters or candles. Lastly, keep all lit candles out of the reach of children and away from any material that can burn such as curtains, upholstery, or decorations. .
It is our sincere hope that all residents will take the time to make sure working smoke alarms are installed throughout their homes. Following these simple steps can minimize the potentially life-threatening impact of fire all year long:
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
• Test alarms each month by pushing the test button.
• Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly.
• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound and understands what to do when they hear the smoke alarm.
• When the smoke alarms sound, get out and stay out! Have a designated place to meet so you can ensure everyone made it out safely.
If you have additional questions, please contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Commissioner at www.osfc.state.pa.us.