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Fire Prevention Week: Protect Your Family by Testing Your Smoke Alarm Monthly

Don't get burned - test your smoke alarm monthly and make sure you have them set up at the critical points around your home.

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October 5 is the start of Fire Prevention Week, and this year, officials at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are getting the word out on fire safety through one simple theme – “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!”

“Smoke alarms can help make the difference between life and death in a fire, but they need to be working,” said Lorraine Carli, the vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, in a press release. “This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign reinforces the importance of testing smoke alarms each month, and works to ensure that people have the needed protection in the event of a home fire.”

Though many may feel safe by merely having a smoke detector, it is integral that it is functioning properly. Said Carli, “The common presence of smoke alarms in the home tends to create a false sense of security.  Simply having smoke alarms isn’t enough. They need to be tested and maintained properly.”

The statistics of home fire deaths are shocking.  According to national statistics taken between 2007 and 2011, nearly three in five home fire deaths occur in homes that either lack smoke alarms, or which lack working smoke alarms.  Working smoke alarms are also considered to cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half, which makes it even more important to make sure they are functioning properly.

To keep your family and home safe, smoke alarms should be installed and maintained in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of the home, including the basement.  To check to see if your smoke alarm is in good working order, all you have to do is press the “test” button on the outside of the detector and see if it goes off.  It is recommended that all of the alarms be interconnected so that when one alarm sounds in the event of smoke, all of the alarms go off to alert everyone throughout the house.  The batteries should be replaced once a year, or when the alarm begins to chirp.  If your alarm includes a non-replaceable battery, you will have to replace the entire fixture.

Home Depot has teamed up with NFPA to educate their customers about ways to protect their homes and families.  Home Depot stores nationwide will be hosting two free informational events.  On Saturday, October 4, kids are invited to attend a workshop where they will build their own mini emergency medical truck.  There will also be a real fire engine or medical truck parked outside most stores that children will be invited to explore.  On Saturday, October 18, adults are invited to attend a workshop to learn how to install and maintain smoke alarms.  For more information, see the Youtube video with Sparky below.

To drive the message home, NFPA has posted an interactive smoke alarm safety quiz.  Test your smoke alarm knowledge by taking the quiz here, and share your results on Facebook and Twitter at the end of the quiz.

Other than smoke alarms, Fire Prevention Week also draws attention to other forms of fires, such as outdoor fire safety.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency has drawn attention to wood-burning safety through their Burn Wise program, which encourages those chopping and storing wood to “split, stack, cover, and store” so that firewood is properly dried and burned so that it does not affect the air we breathe.  Smoke produced by wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contains harmful gases and particles that can cause asthma attacks, severe bronchitis, and aggravate heart and lung disease.  For more about how to burn wood safely and maintain a high level of air quality, watch the video below.

Video courtesy of US Environmental Protection Agency.

[Source: National Fire Protection Association,]