Practice Fire Safety in October

It’s a potentially fatal (and far too common) scenario: An otherwise functional smoke alarm is rendered ineffective when a homeowner, annoyed by an end-of-life signal or false alarm, deliberately deactivates the device by removing its batteries or removing the device altogether – thus leaving the home and everyone who lives there unprotected from the dangers of smoke and fire.

These threats are compounded when you consider that many homes already lack sufficient protection. The Vision 20/20 Project, a fire prevention initiative of the Institution of Fire Engineers, U.S. Branch, estimates that an additional 100 million smoke alarms would need to be installed in U.S. homes to provide an adequate level of protection.*

Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5-11) – established in 1925 and the longest running presidential proclamation in history, according to the National Fire Protection Association – just wrapped up, but the rest of October is a great time to practice fire safety before we turn up the heat when winter arrives. I recommend that you test all your alarms and, if needed, update your home with newer devices that use advanced technology to combat frequent false alarms and better detect real threats.

From decorator-friendly designs to combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, there are several available alarm options for your home. The newest generation of alarms with 10-year batteries are a great choice – and they are available as smoke alarms or combination smoke and CO alarms. Capable of powering the alarm for 10 years, the life of the battery provides the peace of mind of a decade of protection.

In many areas of the country, upgrading to 10-year battery smoke alarms is more than just a good idea – it’s also the law. Recently, several states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana and Oregon, as well as the cities of Phoenix, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and New York City, have passed laws requiring 10-year battery smoke alarms in residential buildings. Numerous other states and municipalities are considering similar legislation. The specific residential requirements are stipulated differently by each state or city. To learn about local smoke alarm legislation in your area, check out the First Alert legislation map.

To help ensure your home is best protected from fire, as well as the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure, I advise following guidelines set by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

The USFA recommends that homes have smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement, and one CO alarm on each level and in a central location outside each sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average-sized home in America – a two-story, three-bedroom house – needs a minimum of five smoke alarms and four carbon monoxide alarms.

Despite the technology available, each year, three of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms, the NFPA says. Therefore, I encourage you to upgrade your alarms in order to better protect yourself, your family and your home.

* Based on experience with home safety visits in communities across the U.S. – estimated range provided by TriData, a Division of System Planning Corporation.

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