Bruce West, Minnesota State Fire Marshal
When was the last time you tested the smoke alarms in your home?
If you’re like many people, you may not even remember. Smoke alarms have become such a common feature of U.S. households they’re often taken for granted and aren’t tested and maintained.
Data from 776 Minnesota fire departments shows four people died last year in homes without smoke alarms or in homes with inoperable smoke alarms. These deaths could have been prevented.
As a member of the fire service for 35 years, I’ve seen the devastating effects of fire first-hand. Witnessing a family’s anguish after a loved one has been killed in a fire is heartbreaking.
Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11 and this year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” The Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division and fire officials statewide want to educate the public about the true value of working smoke alarms.
I hope all Minnesota residents participate in their local Fire Prevention Week activities and make sure there are working smoke alarms installed throughout their homes.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- 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. When one sounds, they all sound
- Test alarms each month by pushing the test button
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10-years-old or sooner if they do not respond properly
- Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it
- And, practice your family fire escape plan.
To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.