Almost two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm. Working smoke alarms can reduce a person’s chance of dying in a home fire by half, and they provide the precious time needed to escape the home in the event of a fire - 50% of fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving family and friends enough time to get out.
“In a fire, seconds count,” said California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. “Think of your smoke alarm as the nose or eyes on the ceiling just smelling or seeing. When it smells or sees products of combustion like smoke, it alarms everyone at home to the danger.”
With fall temperatures dropping, and the increased use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, this is a good time to make sure all homes have working smoke alarms on every level, in every sleeping area, and in the hallways leading to the sleeping areas. These alarms should be hard-wired with a battery backup in case of a power outage.
In California, new smoke alarms have a 10 year long battery life which means no need to change the battery. Home owners should inspect all smoke alarms every month, clean them annually, and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years. If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the smoke alarm battery immediately if the alarm is not a long life battery smoke alarm.
If a smoke alarm sounds, crawl low and go outside to your meeting place. Everyone should be able to do this in less than two minutes. Once outside, call 911. Make sure that nobody goes back inside for anything.
For more information about smoke alarms and home fire safety, visit the Cal Fire website at fire.ca.gov.