year the Fire Prevention Week campaign takes aim at having working smoke alarms
in your home. In fact, working smoke
alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires in half!
fires in the United States continue to claim many lives each year. In fact, 85
percent of all fire deaths occur in the home, and the majority happen at night
when most people are sleeping. Smoke alarms are an important first line of
defense against fire. But if they don’t work, they can’t protect you. It is
essential for every household to have working smoke alarms. Data indicate that
40 percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms and another
23 percent happen in homes with smoke alarms that don’t work. When smoke alarms
fail to sound, it’s usually because they have missing, dead, or disconnected
batteries. The Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services is
strongly urging the NIH community to ensure their homes and loved ones are
adequately protected by using battery operated smoke detectors in their
fatal home fires begin in one room and then kill people elsewhere in the house.
This occurs after the fire has reached extremely high temperatures in the room
where it began and then smoke and toxic gases migrate to other areas. These fires are readily detected by all common
types of smoke detectors in time for sleeping occupants to awaken and safely
escape. Data indicate that a typical living room fire can become deadly in only
two minutes or less after the smoke alarm activates and has the potential to
kill household members in as little as four
and a half minutes after it begins.
alarms are not created equally. Hard-wired smoke alarms will not work during a
power outage, unless they are equipped with a battery back-up and many are not
so equipped. Homeowners are strongly urged to install battery operated smoke
alarms in order to provide maximum protection when power is interrupted, a common
occurrence during thunderstorms and heavy snow storms.
alarms must be properly located, installed and maintained in order to be
effective. To afford adequate protection, smoke alarms must be: (1) located on
every level of the home; (2) installed properly and in working condition; and
(3) tested at least once a month by pushing the "test button."
Batteries should be routinely replaced twice a year.
existing homes, the National Fire Protection Association’s National Fire Alarm
Code requires a minimum of one smoke alarm on every floor of the home,
preferably in the vicinity of the sleeping areas. In addition, in newly
constructed homes, smoke alarms are required inside each room used for
sleeping. Remember, at the first sound of the alarm, all occupants should
evacuate, call the fire department from a phone away from the house and remain
out of the house until the responding firefighters allow reentry. If you
experience a fire in your home, and your house contains properly installed and
maintained smoke alarms, the chances of serious injury or death are
smoke alarms save lives! Test yours
you have any questions regarding residential smoke alarms, including detailed
advice on their proper placement in your home, please contact the Division of
the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services at 301-496-0487.