Sound the alarm
There have been at least 11 lives lost to residential structure fires since Feb. 28, the State Fire Marshal’s Office says. That’s why the office is encouraging all Tennesseans to change their smoke alarm batteries. Timing those battery changes to the change the six-month change in time is a good idea.
“Alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they’re providing the proper protection,” State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak says.
Her office is investigating the nine home fire deaths that have occurred across the state since the end of February. Several of these fires occurred at night or early morning while the victims were sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire, she said. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.
In the United States, some two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no working smoke alarms, studies show. Smoke alarms are critically important and so is replacing batteries regularly. Twice a year is recommended, so doing it when you also have to change your clocks is a good idea and convenient way to remember it. This reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries.
When homeowners hear that annoying chirping, they too often remove a battery but don’t replace it. There’s no way to predict when a fire will occur; so, even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous.
Here are some other hints from the fire marshal on the importance of smoke alarms:
- Smoke alarms should be installed in every room where an occupant sleeps, outside every sleeping area and on each level of the home, including the basement. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
- For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms.
- Dust or vacuum your smoke alarms whenever the battery is changed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the Internet.
- Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, and be sure to teach it to all who live in the home, including children.