Working smoke detectors, closed doors = saved lives

Staff report

SIDNEY — When was the last time you changed your smoke detector batteries? How many times did you practice a fire escape drill in your home? Do you sleep with your bedroom doors closed? The Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services wants to remind residents to check their smoke detectors for readiness to include activation and location. One more item to ponder; sleep with your bedroom door closed.

Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services has a call to action for all of our residents. The following smoke detector information can be used as a checklist:

• Make a home fire escape plan and practice the plan

• Install or check existing detectors on every level of the home and inside and outside of

every bedroom

• Change the batteries often

• Large homes may need to have more detectors installed

• Test all smoke detectors monthly

• Use ionization detectors for quick flaming fires

• Use photoelectric detectors for smoldering fires (have one of each in your home)

• Special detectors can be purchased for individuals with hearing difficulties

• Replace all detectors that greater than 10 years old

“We hope you are asking, What else I can do to protect my family?’” said Deputy chief Cameron Haller. “Shut the door! Sleep with your door closed. A closed door will slow the spread of smoke, heat, and flame.”

This one action alone will provide the occupant of the room to wake up in a less hazardous atmosphere and provide crucial seconds for the individual to make a critical decision.

“The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are sleeping,” said Haller. “Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.”

Tragically, many people mistakenly believe they’d be awakened by the smell of smoke in time to escape. Clinical experiments have found the sense of smell lessens when people are asleep. Therefore, when smoke enters a bedroom, it does not always awaken the individual. In addition, smoke disorients people and dulls their senses, making it less likely other cues, such as cries for help, will awaken them.

More fire safety tips can be located at sheets.

Unfortunately, fire can kill selectively. Those most at risk include:

• Children – Children are particularly vulnerable during home fires. Children ages five and under are 1.5 times as likely as the population as a whole to die in home fires.

• Seniors – Adults ages 65 and older are two times more likely to die in a home fire; those ages 75 and up are three times more likely; and those over 85 are 4.5 times more likely to die in a home fire. Many older adults need assistance and cannot escape by themselves in time.

• Low-income households – Many low-income families are unable to afford batteries for their smoke detectors. These same households often rely on poorly installed, maintained or misused portable or area heating — a main cause of fatal home fires.

Haller also wants to remind residents that the Department of Fire & Emergency Services has free smoke detectors for low and moderate income households.

Stop by Fire Station No. 1 at 222 W. Poplar St. to find out if you qualify and pick up your free smoke detector.

Staff report