Smoke alarms save lives. Yet, every day in homes across the U.S., fire deaths still occur. By ensuring that you have working smoke alarms, you can cut your risk of perishing in a home fire by half, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
"Nearly 3,000 people continue to die in fires each year, with most of those deaths occurring in homes," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "The vast majority of home fire deaths are preventable, and working smoke alarms play a big role in helping reduce those numbers."
"Smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire, but they need to be working," said Carli. "Unfortunately, many home fire deaths result from fires where a smoke alarm is present but does not operate. This year, we're trying to motivate people to test their smoke alarms each month to make sure they're working properly."
Since these small, unobtrusive, but life-saving devices have become such a fixture in homes across the country, it's easy to take for granted that they work properly. The following tips on testing your smoke alarms and other guidelines will help protect you and your family:
* There should be at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home (including the basement), outside all sleeping areas and in every bedroom.
* For smoke alarms that include a 10-year non-replaceable battery, replace the entire smoke alarm if it begins to "chirp," indicating that the battery is running low. For smoke alarms that use regular batteries, replacing the batteries once a year is recommended, or before then if the alarm begins to chirp.
* All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested.
* For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected, so that when one alarm sounds, they all do.