Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives is the theme of this year's Fire Prevention Day. The key word in that phrase, being "working." I spoke with East Haddam Fire Marshal, Don Angersola about fire safety and he says "smoke alarms should be checked monthly and batteries changed every 6 months (at the clock change)."
The timing of Fire Safety Week hits home for me. We had our own little scare in the house this week. I unknowingly flicked a burner on when I put my daughter's high chair tray on the oven to be cleaned. Thankfully, I noticed the smoke a couple minutes later and we prevented a fire.
Don told me between "2007-2011, 73% of American homes had a minimum of one smoke detector, but only 52% of alarms sounded at the time of a fire." Our smoke detector didn't go off this time. I thankfully noticed the smoke because I was in the next room. Don went on to say "the best smoke alarms to have are a dual sensor, ionization/photoelectric." He says "ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, photoelectric alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with long smoldering periods." Good to know, snce that's what we had this week, it was smoky, no fire.
Don adds the most common reasons a smoke alarm doesn't go off: "the battery wasn't changed or the homeowner took it down and didn't replace it because it was a nuisance." In East Haddam, Don says they offer an adult fire prevention class, for this very reason, "kids are the best, they always tell the truth, they love telling if they have an alarm or if they have been taken down or why they sound, they get a kick out of going home with an assignment for their parents!"
A sad statistic he shared, "children are twice as likely to die in a fire because their body can't withstand what an adult can and children fall into a deeper sleep." Don adds that some studies have shown "a voice activated alarm helps increase the child's response, the best being when the mother's voice was recorded and placed in the alarm."
Check out the National Fire Protection Association's website, it's a great resource for adults and kids. And check out the East Haddam Fire Department's website here for more information on that adult fire prevention class.