The National Fire Protection Association is promoting the theme, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years” during this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign.
The focus on smoke alarm replacement comes as the result of a recent survey conducted by NFPA, which showed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are or how often they need to be replaced.
Smoke alarms save lives
According to the NFPA, three of every five home fire deaths in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Almost 40 percent of the fire deaths that occur in the U.S. are in homes with no smoke alarms.
NFPA recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years because that is typically the life expectancy of the devices. After 10 years, the sensors in smoke alarms can begin to lose their sensitivity.
6 Things You Need to Know
1. An average of 7 people die in U.S. home fires every day
•Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries from 2010-2014 (and ties with heating as the second leading cause of home fire deaths).
•Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
•Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fires, fire deaths (tied with cooking) and fire injuries.
2. 501,500 structure fires occurred in the U.S. during 2015
Also, during 2015:
•One structure fire was reported every 63 seconds.
•There was $10.3 billion in property damage from structure fires.
•One home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds.
3. Home fires and deaths in 2015 were half as high as in 1980
4. There were 174,000 highway vehicle fires in 2015
This is an increase of 3.9 percent from the year before.
The NFPA estimates highway vehicle fires totaled $1.2 billion in property damage during 2015.
Some good news: Estimates of home fires and losses for 2015 show that substantial progress has been made since 1980, the first year in which national estimates of specific fire problems were available. Reported home fires fell from 50 percent from 734,000 in 1980 to 365,500 in 2015.
Deaths resulting from these fires fell 51 percent from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,560 in 2015.
5. Additional home smoke alarm tips
•Have working smoke alarms in each bedroom. You also need one outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Mount alarms in the basement.
•Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
•Test all smoke alarms once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarms are working.
•It’s best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
•There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It’s best to use both types of alarms in the home.
•A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet from the stove.
•People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
•A smoke alarm’s age can be determined by looking on the back or side of the smoke alarm, where the date of manufacture can be found. Smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).
6. Fire safety tips for homeowners and renters
•Children under the age of four are at a higher risk of home fire injury and death than older children. Teach all children what the smoke alarm sounds like.
•You may have less than three minutes to escape a home fire. Make a plan and talk with your family about what to do if there is a fire.
•If you live in an apartment or condominium you need to know how to get out quickly if a fire starts. Count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit. Memorize the number in case you have to find the exit in the dark.
•If you smoke in your home, you’re at higher risk to have a fire. Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and always put cigarettes all the way out. Never smoke in bed or if drowsy.
•Any open flame is dangerous. If you use candles in your home, put them in sturdy holders and at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Blow out all candles if you leave the room, get sleepy or go to bed.
•Lock up any items that can start a fire (matches, lighters, cigarettes, etc.) and make sure children cannot reach candles.