Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

April 10, 2013

Simple reminder

House fire deaths point to value of smoke detectors

ASHLAND — A rash of deaths in fatal house fires has prompted the Kentucky Fire Commission to re-emphasize the importance of having working smoke alarms in all residences.

What the fire commission is saying is hardly anything new. The commission and professional and volunteer fire departments throughout the state have been stressing the importance of smoke destectors for decades, and many fire department have programs that will install smoke alarms in homes for free.

But more needs to be done. Since the first of the year, there have been 22 fire fatalities in Kentucky homes and firefighters believe many of them would have been prevented if the residences had working smoke alarms.

“It’s simple — smoke detectors save lives,” said Kentucky Fire Commission Executive Director Ronnie Day. “These devices provide residents time to escape potential fatal situations before they become trapped by flames or overcome by smoke.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, when smoke detectors are present, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82 percent. The U.S Fire Administration ranks Kentucky ninth in the United States for fire deaths.

The commission offers the following tips on smoke alarms:

‰Place smoke alarms inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home.

‰Interconnect smoke alarms; if one sounds, they all sound.

‰Inspect and test smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. A good reminder is to change batteries when you change your clocks.

‰Install smoke alarms away from air vents.

One of the most common mistakes is the failure to check smoke detectors. Many have been quietly hanging on a wall or ceiling for years wihtout ever being checked. Malfunctioning smoke detectors create a false sense of security with the occupants of homes who think their smoke detectors are protecting them,

It only takes a second or two to check a smoke detector, and it is one of the most important things residents of homes can do. After all, a smoke detector is worthless if its battery has run down.

Many — if not all — of the 22 deaths in Kentucky house fires in only three months could have been prevented by having working smoke detectors in residences.

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