The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) launched an effort to encourage everyone to install and maintain home smoke alarms and, if possible, sprinklers. More than 3,000 people die in home fires each year, and the majority of them have no working smoke alarm. To prevent these deaths, the USFA, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sponsoring the nationwide Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign, which emphasizes that “Smoke Alarms Save Lives.”
“The U.S. Fire Administration tracks fatal home fires every day, and it is tragic to see how many deaths are linked to homes without working smoke alarms,” said Kelvin J. Cochran, U.S. Fire Administrator. “The USFA is committed to preventing the loss of life and we want residents and fire fighters to be safe.” He added, “Smoke alarms are inexpensive, easy to install, and easy to maintain. We are asking everyone to make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes, and if possible, sprinklers.”
When both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present in a home, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82 percent, when compared to a residence without either. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003-2006, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with either no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Cochran also emphasized that firefighters often die in the line of duty trying to rescue people who did not get out at the first sign of a fire. He added, “Smoke alarms and sprinklers give you and your family more time to get out, before firefighters have to come in to rescue you.”
The Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign is promoting fire safety through a free Campaign Toolkit DVD; featuring English and Spanish educational materials; print, radio and television PSAs; children’s materials, a video demonstration of how quickly a home fire spreads, and on the USFA’s consumer-friendly Web site at www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.
The USFA has always promoted fire safety and the use of smoke alarms through materials and in campaigns, such as “Tribute to Heroes” and “Prepare. Practice. Prevent the Unthinkable: A Parents’ Guide to Fire Safety for Babies and Toddlers,” to name a few. Now, emphasizing the importance of both smoke alarms and sprinklers, our PSAs –“My Dad” and “My Mom” – focus on the viewpoint of the child of a firefighter. The campaign materials include real stories of people whose lives have been saved, because they had a working smoke alarm.
The USFA offers a few helpful tips on smoke alarms and sprinklers:
- Place properly installed and maintained smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
- Interconnected smoke alarms are best, because if one sounds, they all sound.
- The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and change alkaline batteries at least once every year, or as instructed by the manufacturer. You can use a date you already know, like your birthday or when you change your clocks as a reminder.
- If possible, install residential fire sprinklers in your home.
- Avoid painting or covering the fire sprinkler, because that will affect the sensitivity to heat.
Organizations in partnership with the U.S. Fire Administration’s Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign include the American Fire Sprinkler Association, Burn Institute, Everyone Goes Home, Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association, Fire Department Safety Officers Association, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Home Safety Council, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services, National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) , NASFM Fire Research and Education Foundation, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, National Fire Protection Association, National Fire Sprinkler Association, National Volunteer Fire Council, and Safe Kids Worldwide.
Materials can be downloaded at www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms (English) or www.usfa.dhs.gov/detectoresdehumo (Spanish). The Campaign Toolkit disc with all campaign materials is available from the USFA Publications Center at www.usfa.dhs.gov or by calling (800)561-3356.