Every 20 seconds, a fire department is called to respond to a fire somewhere in the United States. Once a minute, a fire occurs inside a structure. Sadly, the home is the most likely place that we have of dying in a fire or fire-related smoke inhalation injury. Four out of five fire-related deaths among civilians occur in the home. Thankfully, home fires and deaths have been declining since 1977, partly because of guideline changes for smoke alarms, but more still needs to be done:
- Public education campaigns on how to prevent fires and how to avoid serious injury or death if fire occurs
- Properly using and maintaining smoke alarms
- Developing and practicing escape plans once an alarm goes off
- Policy to encourage wider use of residential sprinkler systems
- Regulations to make household products more fire-safe
- Creating plans and policies to address the specific needs of groups at high risk of fire injury and death: the elderly, the disabled, the young, and the poor
Smoke alarms are often the only warning that a sleeping family has that smoke and fire is spreading in their home. If you or a family member has been injured by smoke inhalation or fire, you may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer.
How to Use Smoke Alarms to Stay Safe
Ensure that smoke alarms have been installed correctly, and that they are in good working order:
- Choose smoke alarms labeled with the sticker of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
- Test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the test button. Suggestion: setup a 12 month calendar and cross off the month once the test is complete.
- Immediately replace any smoke alarm that does not respond properly when tested.
- Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
- Change batteries on all smoke alarms once or twice per year and as needed. Suggestion: replace batteries on daylight savings so it is easy to remember. If the alarm chirps, this is a warning that the battery is low and that batteries need to be replaced. Note that some alarms come with non-replaceable 10-year batteries; these alarms are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years.
- When replacing a battery, check the manufacturer’s list of recommended batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries that must be used for your brand and model. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
- If a smoke alarm goes off in your home, get outside and stay outside.
- Smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years from the date of manufacture.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!