Smoke detectors can save you from a fire

In the last two months, Washington County has had two fatal fires, resulting in the deaths of five people. In another fire, a local teen was critically burned.

With these tragedies fresh in our minds, there’s no better time to make sure that your family is as protected as possible.

Along with following safety guidelines for space heaters and other heating equipment, each household should not only discuss an exit plan but practice one, particularly if there are children in the home.

The No. 1 thing people can do to protect themselves is to make sure there are working smoke detectors in the home and that there are enough detectors throughout the space. Often, the fire itself isn’t preventable but with an early warning system like a smoke detector it is much more likely people can make it out safely.

Along with checking the batteries, some experts also advise checking the smoke sensor by holding it directly above a candle that has just been blown out.

The National Fire Protection Association offers these call-to-action statistics:

¯ Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38 percent) or no working smoke alarms (21 percent).

¯ The death rate per 100 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths vs. 0.53 deaths per 100 fires).

¯ In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46 percent) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

¯ Dead batteries caused one-quarter (24 percent) of the smoke alarm failures.

We encourage everyone to check their smoke detectors today. It could save your life.