Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Prepared to Survive a House Fire?

National Fire Prevention Week

 

This is National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15. While this year's theme emphasizes replacing smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old, Seeley Lake Fire Chief Bob Vanden Heuvel said it's also a good time to stop for an hour and think about home fire safety.

Vanden Heuvel said that in the U.S. 2000 fire fatalities occur each year. A home fire will double in size every 20-30 seconds. Home fires now also include deathly toxic by-products that kill before people in the home ever wake up. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics show that three out of five U.S. home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working alarms.

"Home fires are not like in the movies," said Vanden Heuvel. "If you are not awakened by a smoke detector in the early stages of a home fire and you are not overcome by the poison gasses, it is still very likely you will never find your way out."

A national survey conducted by NFPA shows that nine out of 10 Americans don't know how often smoke alarms need to be replaced. The correct answer is every 10 years.

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). In addition, smoke alarms should be tested monthly and batteries should be replaced when they begin to chirp, signaling that they're running low.

Vanden Heuvel reminds the community that home fires increase now that home heating sources are becoming operational. Questions every resident should take time to address include:

• Have you had your heat sources tested for safe and efficient operation?

• Is your chimney clean and functional?

• Are your smoke detectors in good operating order? This includes replacing batteries and a check to see that your detector is no more than 10 years old.

• Are your carbon monoxide detectors in good operating order?

• Do you have a home emergency evacuation plan? This should include a family meeting so you all know the plan for action. Make sure you have a rendezvous point outside for accountability.

"The Seeley Lake Rural Fire District staff and volunteers care about our residents. We have free smoke detectors and batteries. We can help you plan your home emergency evacuation plan," said Vanden Heuvel. "Do not get caught in a home fire tonight without the preparation required today...to make it out alive!

 

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