Chuck Kuhn, Fermilab fire chief, wrote this column.
Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 4-10, and the Fermilab Fire Department reminds you to be sure your home is outfitted with an operating smoke detector.
This year’s Prevention Week theme is “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!” Statistics show that while 96 percent of American homes have at least one smoke detector, smoke alarms were either absent or not working in two out of five reported house fires. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. More importantly, home fires that occur during sleeping hours result in a significantly higher percentage of serious injury or death where no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms are present.
Your senses of smell and hearing are greatly diminished during sleep, but functioning smoke alarms never sleep. They are your insurance that your family is safe even during slumber.
It is recommended that a smoke alarm be installed outside each bedroom in your home. Change the batteries in these and all other household units at least once a year. Test each and every detector, whether battery-powered or hardwire-installed, once a month.
A home fire escape plan is essential. Every family needs to determine a route out of the house. Household members should also know who might not be awoken by the sound of the alarm. If someone is at risk of sleeping through the alarm, the family needs to assign an adult who wakes easily to rouse the rest of the household, perhaps by yelling “fire,” pounding on doors or walls, or blowing a whistle.
So let’s check those smoke detectors, get that escape plan in place and make sure you “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!”