Fire Prevention Week 2016: Don’t Wait, Check the Date

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – October 11, 2016 – Comment

Water has the power to beat fire. It’s that simple. Fire Prevention Week always reminds me how water can so effectively extinguish fires, and in this way, what is already our most valuable resource saves lives. But when water can’t be the first line of defense in stopping a home fire, we rely on our smoke alarms.

This year, the theme of Fire Prevention Week (Oct 9-15) is “Don’t Wait-Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” What might seem like a basic principle of fire safety is essential for the upkeep of both smoke alarms and the safety of your home.

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) data shows many misconceptions surrounding smoke alarms; only a small percentage of people surveyed knew how old their smoke alarms were, and if this “age” meant the alarm needed to be replaced. Three out of five home fire deaths in 2009-2013 were caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. It’s important to know when your smoke alarm stops working so it can be properly replaced and ready to save lives. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half. Imagine how many more fire-related disasters would be prevented if every American took time to check their smoke alarms!

Here are some tips from the NFPA for checking smoke alarms and ensuring smoke alarm safety in the home:

  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years.
  • To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of the manufacture on the back of the alarm. The alarm should be replaced ten years from that date.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside separate sleeping areas, and on every level of the home (even the basement).
  • Whenever possible, make sure all smoke alarms are interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound to alert everyone in the home.

Once the smoke alarm has done its job, though, water can put out the fire quickly and efficiently before damage is done. Firefighters have access to pressurized fire hydrants because of reliable water infrastructure. When water lines are maintained and regulated, emergency workers can easily access the water they need to extinguish fires and save your home.

This year, use Fire Prevention Week to stop waiting and start checking each and every smoke alarm in your home to make sure they do not need to be replaced. By maintaining our smoke alarms and our water infrastructure, we can create a safer country where water doesn’t need to beat fire in order to save lives.