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'Working smoke alarms needed in every home'

Orion Township firefighter Tony Cook gives David Leone some help with the heavy gear. Photo by Laura Colvin (click for larger version)
October 06, 2010 - A significant number of homes in Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion may be ill-equipped to warn residents of fire.

That's the word from Orion Township Fire Inspector Michael Martin, who's spending a large part of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9, promoting the campaign "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!"

"Many homes may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working," said Martin. "We want residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. And, if a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced."

After all, he added, smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death.

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half. But the association's data shows many homes have smoke alarms that aren't working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

About two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms, NFPA reports.

NFPA and Orion Township Fire Department agree that interconnected smoke alarms offer the best protection; when one sounds, they all do. This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide warning, especially for sleeping individuals.

"Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes. Fire Prevention Week provides an excellent opportunity to re-educate people about smoke alarms, new technologies and expanded options for installation and maintenance," said Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education.

Orion Township Fire Department offers the following tips for making sure smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:

•Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.

•If an alarm "chirps," replace the battery right away.

•Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they're 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

•Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

To learn more about "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!," visit NFPA's Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org.

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