Column: Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week (FPW) for more than 90 years, is gearing up to officially kick off this year's campaign, October 5-11, 2014. The theme is "Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!"

"Smoke alarms can help make the difference between life and death in a fire, but they need to be working," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "This year's Fire Prevention Week campaign reinforces the importance of testing smoke alarms each month, and works to ensure that people have the needed protection in the event of a home fire."

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. While research shows that most U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

"The common presence of smoke alarms in the home tends to create a false sense of security," said Carli. "Simply having smoke alarms isn't enough. They need to be tested and maintained properly."

In addition to monthly testing, smoke alarms should be installed and maintained as follows:

•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 battery 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.

NFPA's Fire Prevention Week website (www.fpw.org) offers a wealth of smoke alarm information and resources for parents and teachers, and for fire departments working to implement the campaign in their communities. In addition, NFPA's Sparky the Fire Dog® website (www.sparky.org/fpw) features award-winning apps and games for kids that reinforce the campaign's fire safety messages.

 

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