Smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm are key to safety

The following is from Captain Fire Inspector Jesse Kriebel of the Taylor Fire Department, presented during Fire Prevention Month:

Who sleeps?  Who sleeps in a bed?  Who sleeps in a bed in a house or apartment?

More than 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in the place we feel the safest – our homes – and the majority of them occur at night. Most fire deaths occur from smoke, not flames.

Replace batteries in smoke alarms. When you change your clocks, change your batteries. We find about one third of all homes do not have working smoke alarms.

Replace smoke alarms every 10 years with new ones. Replace the old smoke alarms with new smoke alarms that have a built-in five- or 10-year battery inside They cost a little more (about $25 to $50), but you'll save on 9-volt batteries in the future. (One 9-volt battery is about $2.50.) Even better, install 110-volt, battery back-up, interconnected smoke alarms throughout your home. Install at least one on every floor of your home, inside every sleeping area and just outside every sleeping area. New homes are required to have these.

A new state law (PA 64 of 2004, effective March 14, 2006) requires that any home built before November 6, 1974, have one of these two fire detection options retroactively installed to be in compliance.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm -- or more than one -- in your home and maintain the battery.

Have a plan. Children and the elderly are at the highest risk of fire death – twice the risk of the average population. When your smoke alarm sounds at 4 a.m., you have only about one minute to escape safely. The smoke will descend from the ceiling to the floor very quickly.

Families need to have a fire escape plan – and need to practice the plan (blindfolded). Know what that sound is (smoke alarm). Leave everything behind and get out fast; no toys, no pets.

Adults should plan on how best to protect babies, handicapped or mobility impaired persons. Stay low and go. Crawl and feel along a wall.

Have two ways out of every room: doors first, windows second. Second-floor bedrooms should have portable fire-escape ladders ($30). Kids need to practice unlocking doors and windows.

Sleep with bedroom doors closed to keep smoke and fire out. If bedroom doors are closed, check them for heat before opening them. If they are hot, go out the window. Have a meeting place outside to take a head count.

Teach children how to call 911. Do not call from inside a burning house. Go to a nearby safe neighbor.

Never go back inside a burning house.

If you forget all of this please just remember: get out fast. You only have one minute to escape safely.