'It's Fire Prevention Week: Test Your
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SPRINGFIELD -- Although
smoke alarms have cut home fire death rates in half since the 1970s,
many lives continue to be lost each year in fires in homes without
working smoke alarms. That's why the Office of the State Fire
Marshal is using Fire Prevention Week 2004, Oct. 3-9, to highlight
the importance of installing and maintaining smoke alarms in homes.
The theme is "It's Fire Prevention Week: Test Your Smoke Alarms."
"It's impossible to overemphasize the
importance of having working smoke detectors in every home," said
Illinois State Fire Marshal J.T. Somer. "In the 30 years since smoke
detectors were introduced to consumers, they have helped reduce the
home fire death rate by one-half. And even though they are now
widely available and inexpensive, roughly 70 percent of home fire
deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or in homes
where the smoke alarm isn't working."
Somer noted that fires can spread
through a home rapidly, and in some cases, individuals may have as
little as two minutes to escape to safety once the alarm sounds.
"Quite honestly, a working smoke alarm can make a life-or-death
difference in many fires," he said. "But the alarm sounding is just
one of the critical steps. You and your family need to know to leave
the house immediately when the alarm sounds."
Key smoke alarm installation and
maintenance tips include:
- Install at least one smoke alarm
on every level of the home and outside each separate sleeping
- Mount smoke alarms on ceilings or
- Test smoke alarms once a month,
following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace batteries once a year or
as soon as the device "chirps," indicating that the battery is
- Replace all smoke alarms after 10
years, even those that are hard-wired or smoke alarms with
"long-life" (10-year) batteries. Smoke alarms with "long-life"
batteries also need to be replaced when the alarm "chirps" or
fails to respond to periodic testing. The batteries in these units
cannot be replaced.
- Alarms that are hard-wired to the
home's electrical system should be installed by a qualified
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Fire departments across the state
are joining with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the
National Fire Protection Association to bring the message of Fire
Prevention Week to their communities. Many fire departments are
conducting community Fire Prevention Week events that will include
assisting residents in developing a home fire escape plan. Such
plans include identifying escape routes in the home and choosing an
outside meeting place where everyone can gather after they've
escaped. Once a plan is developed, families should periodically
practice the plan to ensure everyone in the home knows the fire
escape plan, is familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm and knows
how to exit quickly.
Contact your local fire department
to find out about Fire Prevention Week activities in your community.
Fire Prevention Week commemorates
the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, in which more than 250 people died,
100,000 were left homeless and more than 17,400 structures were
destroyed. Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health
and safety observance on record, according to the National Fire
To learn more about Fire Prevention
[News release from the
Office of the State Fire