Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 9-15 this year, and the National Fire Prevention Association wants the public to use it as an opportunity to check and replace aging smoke alarms.
The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign is “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 years.”
This is the third year the organization has turned its Fire Prevention Week focus to the importance of smoke alarm safety, in response to surveys conducted by the NFPA that show most of the public does not know how old their smoke alarms are, according to the NFPA.
“Smoke alarms play an essential role in home fire safety, but they have to be working properly in order to protect people,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of the NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division.
According to a 2015 report on the NFPA website, in 20 percent of U.S. homes with smoke alarms, the alarms are not working.
“People tend to assume that simply having smoke alarms in their home ensures adequate protection from fires, but it takes regular testing and maintenance to ensure that that’s the case,” Carli said in a news release.
Ponderosa Fire Department Chief Fred Windisch said his department works with local homeowners associations and Spring ISD schools to educate the public about fire safety. The department covers the area near FM 1960 and I-45.
“I believe our nation needs to continually be aware of the dangers of fire,” Windisch said. “We think it only happens to someone else. The emphasis in Fire Prevention Week is to raise our awareness so that we think of it more than just one week a year.”
The NFPA recommends the following guidelines on smoke alarm replacement and maintenance:
- Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years
- Keep a record of how old all of the smoke alarms are in your home.
- The date of manufacture is listed on the back of a smoke alarm.
Ponderosa Fire Department, operated by Harris County Emergency District No. 28, also offers the following guidelines for what families should do when the alarm sounds:
- Locate two escape routes from each room—a door or a window.
- Close all doors behind you as you exit.
- If an exit is blocked by smoke or fire, use the second exit to escape. Stay low and crawl under the smoke on your hands and knees.
- If you live in a high-rise building, use the stairs, not the elevator.
- Choose a meeting place a safe distance from your home, and make sure every family member knows where it is.
- Make sure the street number and address of your home is visible to firefighters.
- Call 911 once you are outside.
- Practice your escape drill at least once a year.
- Do not go back inside a burning building.
For additional information about fire prevention in Harris County, contact the Harris County Fire Marshal's office at 281-436-8000 or visit www.hcfmo.net to learn more about its community outreach programs.