Darlington raising alert for smoke alarms

Fire detector

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

The recent fire-related death of Darlington resident Dozier Cannon casts a spotlight on an enduring home safety issue: the importance of installing and maintaining smoke alarms throughout the home. When fire broke out at Cannon’s First Street home early on the morning of January 10, smoke quickly filled the residence and Cannon was unable to get out safely.

Darlington Fire Department Chief Pat Cavanaugh says a post-fire inspection found no smoke alarms in the residence, and he can’t help wondering if tragedy could have been averted with a few simple precautions.

“At the time of the fire we did not see any (smoke alarms) in the house… they might have been in there earlier, but we don’t know,” Cavanaugh says. “An alarm could have alerted (Cannon) minutes before. You just never know.”

To help raise awareness of this important safety issue, the Red Cross and the DFD are teaming up for a smoke alarm blitz January 19 and 23 in the Darlington communities around 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Streets and Avenues A through E. Residents will have the chance to get a smoke alarm with a ten-year lithium battery installed free of charge. Cavanaugh says the DFD is planning a citywide smoke alarm blitz later this year.

Smoke alarms are an integral part of a home fire safety plan. Smoke can spread very quickly and can incapacitate people in a matter of minutes, so keep your smoke alarms in good condition to provide the earliest possible warning. Those extra moments could mean the difference between life and death. The National Fire Protection Association offers the following checklist to ensure your home is adequately protected:

• Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement.
Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
• It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
• Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
• There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.
• A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
• People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
• Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
• Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.

Plan your escape
Your ability to get out of your house during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.
• Get everyone in your household together and make a home escape plan. Walk through your home and look for two ways out of every room.
• Make sure escape routes are clear of debris and doors and windows open easily. Windows with security bars or grills should have an emergency release device.
• Plan an outside meeting place where everyone will meet once they have escaped. A good meeting place is something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox a safe distance in front of the home.
• If there are infants, older adults, family members with mobility limitations or children who do not wake to the sound of the smoke alarm, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the event of an emergency.
• If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Respond quickly – get up and go, remember to know two ways out of every room, get yourself outside quickly, and go to your outside meeting place with your family.

Author: Jana Pye

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