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Fire Prevention Week 2016 (October 9-15) -- "DON'T WAIT -- CHECK THE DATE" & Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years

This year the Fire Prevention Week campaign "Don't Wait - Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years" takes aim at ensuring every room used for sleeping in your home has a working smoke alarm. In fact, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires in half!
Home 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. Most people think they have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Data indicates that a typical living room fire can become deadly in only 2 minutes or less. 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 indicates 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 (beep), it's usually because they have missing, dead, or disconnected batteries.
Smoke alarms generally have a useful life expectancy of 10 years. It is wise to check the date of manufacture for your smoke alarms and replace them as you deem appropriate.
The Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services is strongly urging the NIH community to ensure their homes, sleeping rooms and loved ones are adequately protected by using battery operated smoke alarms in their residences.
Most 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.
Smoke 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.
Smoke alarms must be properly located, installed and maintained in order to be effective. To afford adequate protection, smoke alarms must be: (1) located on each level of the dwelling unit, including basements; (2) located in all sleeping rooms and outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms; (3) installed properly and in working condition; and (4) tested at least once a month by pushing the "test button." Batteries should be routinely replaced twice a year.
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 significantly reduced.
Working smoke alarms save lives! Test yours every month!

If 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.