Open any newspaper this past week, and you will find many pictures of students making visits to fire stations, fire crews visiting schools and students wearing a fire helmet or turnout coat. Classrooms across the United States observed National Fire Protection Week by learning about fire safety tips.
The National Fire Protection Association was formed in 1922. One of the many tasks this association does is public education. Their mascot Sparky has been teaching fire safety to children and adults for years. This year’s theme is Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.
The sounds of fire safety include smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Newer detectors will sound three beeps in a row and repeat. If an alarm sounds, it means smoke or fire is present, and you should get out, stay out and call 911 from outside. Recommendations are that detectors, both fire and carbon monoxide, should be replaced every ten years. Battery replacement should occur when the time changes. Our next time change is slated for Nov. 7 at 2 a.m.
Smoke or fire detectors will sometimes chirp every 30-60 seconds. This signifies that the battery is low and needs changing. If the battery is changed, yet the detector continues to chirp, depending on the model, it could indicate the end of life (over 10 years) for the detector.
If you or someone you know is hearing impaired, smoke or fire detectors are available that utilize a strobe light to alert the occupants of any danger.
Another sound of fire safety for this year’s theme is carbon monoxide detectors. Newer models will beep four times then repeat. Again, get out, stay out and call 911. CO detectors will make the same chirping noise when the batteries are low or if they are at their end-of-life (ten years).
With winter’s soon arrival, CO detectors will be sounding more when any gas appliances such as ovens or heaters are being used. If an alarm sounds, gather up the family and get out. On the way out, keep doors and windows closed. Keeping the structure closed (with no one inside) will help the fire department locate the source of carbon monoxide more easily.
The NFPA recommends that you test your smoke detector weekly or every Saturday. Let your children press the test button and teach them what the sound means. Your family should have an escape route and a meeting place for everyone in the household. If an event should occur, a meeting place makes it easy to account for everybody.
Give arriving firefighters a quick report if someone is still inside. Never go back into a structure that is burning. Statistics show that most would be rescuers end up as a fatalities. Breaking a window to try and rescue a family member can feed air and oxygen to the fire inside and cause the fire to burn at a faster rate toward the open window. Let the fire department search for the person. They have the equipment, gear and air packs to conduct the search in a safe manner.
If your family has an escape plan, remind family members about the plans, ask them questions about the plan and even practice the drills. The more family members are familiar with the emergency plan, the more successful the evacuation will be. Practice often and at various times of the day or night. The more you practice, the better prepared your family will be.
Smoke and fire detectors, along with carbon monoxide detectors, offer your family the best early alarming and protection you may need. Keep the detectors working with charged batteries, and they will alarm when the time is needed. Stay safe.