Did you know that the first week of February is National Burn Awareness Week? Designed to elevate awareness and education of fire prevention and safety, this week is the perfect time to turn your attention to protecting your home and family. Unfortunately, we are seeing an alarming rate of fire-related injuries and deaths already this year. Earlier in January, a family of four in Sylmar, California, died from smoke inhalation in a home not equipped with working smoke detectors, according to fire investigators. Just days later across the country, a mother and eight of her children perished in a horrific house fire in Kentucky.
Many of these types of deaths can be prevented. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of fire deaths in homes are a result of a lack of working smoke detectors. The good news is that this is a simple fix. Properly installed and maintained fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are the best line of defense for your family. When installing detectors, make sure they are positioned in key areas, including every level of your home, including basements and attics, inside and outside all sleeping areas and in the kitchen.
Installing fire detectors is only the first step, however. Be sure that they have fresh batteries, are checked to be functioning properly on regular intervals and maintained according to manufacturer directions for long-term effectiveness. Here are some general guidelines for effective maintenance:
- Test each alarm in your house every month.
- Replace the batteries at least once per year.
- Replace the entire unit every 8-10 years.
If you are worried about battery-powered detectors, some alarms can be hard-wired into an electrical system for easier maintenance. Have a licensed electrician install these types of devices to be sure they are working properly. And don’t forget to test their functionality on a regular basis as well.
Sometimes, no matter how diligent you are, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can malfunction. Carbon monoxide poisoning, often called the “silent killer,” can occur not only at home or work, but also on a boat, in motor homes, trailers, tents or campers. If a friend, relative or loved one has suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, or devastating burn injuries, contact us immediately or call 800-676-5295.
When it comes to protecting the lives of your family, you can never be too cautious. If you have children, be sure that they are knowledgeable about the dangers of fire and what to do in emergency situations. FEMA has a great site for children fire and emergency awareness at http://www.ready.gov/kids that provides colorful, memorable ways to teach children important life-saving lessons.