Bedroom smoke alarms focus of this year’s efforts

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, used the theme “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!” for this year’s observance of the special week.

“Working smoke alarms can make the difference between life and death in a fire,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and Advocacy. “This year’s Fire Prevention Week message reinforces the importance of having smoke alarms in key locations where they can make that difference.”

According to NFPA, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when there are working smoke alarms. While research shows that most U. S. homes have at least one smoke alarm, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Large homes may require more alarms. Test your smoke alarms every month, and replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

The newly released NFPA report “Smoke Alarms in U. S. Home Fires” reveals data from 2009-2013 that underscores the importance of working smoke alarms.

An average of 940 deaths per year occurred in homes with no smoke alarms, while an additional 510 occurred in homes with smoke alarms that failed to operate. This accounts for 59 percent of all home fire deaths.

The death rate in homes without alarms or without working ones was 1.18 deaths per 100 reported fires, compared to only 0.53 in homes with working devices.

Alarms operated correctly 87 percent of the time in reported fires large enough to activate them. Power source problems are the leading cause of smoke alarm failures. Hardwired devices were more likely to operate than those that were battery powered.

The lowest death rate was seen in homes that contained both hardwired smoke alarms and sprinklers.

When homes did have working smoke alarms, victims were more likely to have been located in the place of origin, to be 65 or older, to have a physical disability or to have tried to fight the fire themselves.