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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2008

Winter Safety: Smoke detectors and an escape plan

By Mr. Bill Ebbole 1st Logistic Readiness Squadron

Fall has arrived and winter is not far behind. For the past four months the focus on safety has been safe driving, driving under the influence prevention, sunscreen, swimming and water hazards and barbecues at house. 

Now our focus should not diminish on safe driving, wearing seatbelts, distractions and of course DUI prevention. However, we must also focus on safety in our homes during the winter season. 

When was the last time you checked your smoke detectors in your house, they should be checked twice a year. 

You must go beyond just checking them, you must determine how many smoke detectors you need and where they should be placed in your home. 

There should be a smoke detector on every level of the house, including the basement and outside every bedroom. New homes require smoke detectors in every bedroom. On floors without bedrooms, smoke alarms should be installed in or near living areas, such as family rooms and living rooms, according to the National Fire Prevention Association's National Fire Alarm Code. 

Here are some additional guidelines for installation: 

· If you sleep with your bedroom doors closed, it is recommended that a smoke detector be installed inside each bedroom. Alarms should also be installed in other areas of your home where people sleep. 

· Wired systems should not be connected to a circuit that could be turned off with a wall switch. 

· Plug-in systems should have a restraining device at the outlet to prevent the plug from accidentally coming loose. 

· Hard-wired systems should be installed by a qualified electrician. 

· Do not install the smoke detector near windows, doors or forced-air registers where air flow would interfere with the operation of the detector. 

Now what good is a smoke detector without an escape plan, does your family should know what to do if the detector goes off and a central location to meet to ensure everyone is accounted for. 

Children should know what to do when a fire alarm goes off. They should also know how to open a window and climb down a fire escape or ladder and wait for help. 

Conventional smoke alarms have two serious limitations. First, although extremely loud these alarms do not reliably awaken children; many children sleep right through the beeping. Second, if the child does wake up, these sounds give no instruction about what to do to escape the fire. Children do not naturally know what to do in these emergencies. Sometimes they attempt to hide under beds or in closets, which can have tragic consequences. 

To ensure your children escape safely if a fire should occur consider the vocal smoke detector manufactured by many companies and Underwriters Laboratories approved. These smoke detectors offer the following features: 

· Personalized Escape Instructions; help children recall their escape plan to calmly and quickly exit. 

· Loud 85 decibel "Familiar Voice" output directional speaker fire drill feature 

· Advanced Photoelectric Sensing Technology

According to the Center for Disease Control these are the groups that have an increased risk of fire- related injuries; 

· Children 4 years old and under (CDC 1998) 

· Adults 65 years old and older (CDC 1998) 

· The poorest Americans (Istre 2001) 

· Persons living in rural areas (Ahrens 2003) 

· Persons living in manufactured homes or substandard housing (Runyan 1992; Parker)

Don't compromise on your family's safety, act now to ensure you are prepared for the worse.