EDITORIAL: Working smoke alarms save lives

Working smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire. That’s the message behind the 2014 Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month,” from Oct. 5 to 11.

The Shelton Fire Department — consisting of the Echo Hose, Huntington, Pine Rock Park and White Hills volunteer fire companies — is currently involved in various fire safety activities that will continue through October.

These programs are part of an effort to reduce the chances of residents being injured or killed by fire in addition to preserving property. Shelton has experienced its share of fire tragedy, with one death in 2013.

Together with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Shelton Fire Department is working to remind local residents about the importance of having working smoke alarms in the home and testing them monthly.

Cut the chance of dying in half

According to the latest NFPA research, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

In a fire, seconds count, emphasized Ted Pisciotta, Shelton assistant chief for fire prevention. Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Smoke alarms in the home can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out.

In conjunction with making every effort to prevent a fire from ever happening, be prepared by maintaining working smoke alarms throughout the entire home.

Tips to be safe

Follow these tips for making sure smoke alarms are in place and working properly:

— Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

— Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do.

— Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.

— Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old, or sooner if they don’t respond properly.

— Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.

— If an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

— Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

— Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

Chief Pisciotta is encouraging businesses, organizations, and individuals throughout the city to visit the Fire Prevention Bureau website, which may be found by clicking on “Public Safety” at www.cityofshelton.org.

Easy to print and post fire safety tips are available. In addition, information may be copied and pasted by visitors into newsletters, etc.