In 2018, there have been 19 fire fatalities in Oklahoma City. Just one of those fires that claimed lives was detected by a working smoke alarm, proving their effectiveness.
Oct. 7-13 is Fire Prevention Week and Oklahoma City Fire Department Captain Chad Wilds is marking the occasion by spreading the word about the programs the department has implemented to help prevent fire deaths in the city. Fighting fires every day, Wilds has seen firsthand how important smoke detectors can be in saving lives. Most fatal fires occur at night and smoke is the killer in most fires. A sounding alarm can alert residents while there’s still time to escape.
“Whenever we have a fire alarm in a residence that was alerted by the smoke alarm to get out,” he said, “if we can find the smoke alarm we’ll get it and pull it out as a trophy. We’re growing quite a collection of those.”
The department has a free program called Project Life that allows Oklahoma City residents who cannot get smoke detectors for any reason to get free ones installed by local firefighters. One smoke detector should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each bedroom and at least one on every floor, even if there are no bedrooms on the floor.
Whenever local firefighters install smoke detectors, Wilds said they date them and write the name of the engine or ladder doing the install. He recalled a fire that occurred last year where when they pulled the smoke detector out of the house, they noticed it had been installed just two weeks earlier.
In addition to installing and maintaining smoke detectors, another great way to help prevent fire catastrophes is for families to have a plan for exiting the home in case of an emergency, Wilds said.
It’s not enough to just install smoke detectors. Make sure to maintain them by following these steps:
- Replace batteries according to the manufacturer’s recommendations – or at least once a year.
- A chirping noise also indicates a need to change batteries.
- Purchase a 10 year (long-life) alarm with a lithium battery that never needs replaced.
- Test your smoke alarm once per month using the test button.
- Dust can damage your alarm’s sensitivity. Most units need to be cleaned once a year by dusting or vacuuming.
- Smoke alarms should last 7-10 years (varies by manufacturer) if properly maintained.
In honor of Fire Prevention Week, we’re giving away a fire and carbon monoxide safety kit valued at $120. See details at www.metrofamilymagazine.com/contests (contest ends Oct. 30, 2018).