An Oakland family recently lost its home during a nighttime fire, but the two adults and two children escaped without injury because they heard the blaring of smoke detectors.
If you don’t have working smoke detectors in your home, now is the time to get them. Find out how they work, install them in the right places and keep them maintained. Your community’s fire department will be more than happy to help you.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration — a part of the Federal Emergency Management Administration — about 2,500 people die in home fires every year in the United States.
Most of these deaths occurred in homes that didn’t have a working smoke alarm. Officials in California say that having a working smoke alarm increases the chance of surviving a home fire by 50 percent.
Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, in hallways leading to bedrooms and on each floor, including the basement. They are designed to chirp when the battery is low, but the battery should be replaced once a year. Those with long-term nonreplaceable batteries should be replaced entirely when they begin to chirp.
What to do if the alarm goes off? Get out immediately, even if you don’t see fire or smoke. Don’t stop to take things with you. Then call 911 from a neighbor’s house or cell phone.
If there is smoke, crawl low to the ground to stay out quickly, staying under the smoke. Go to a designated meeting place to make sure everyone got out safely. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to practice this. The best way to survive a life-threatening situation is knowing what to do when it happens.