One minute or less…
…is all the time you may have to escape a fire in your home. Schlage, which is dedicated to keeping homes and families safe, sound and secure, and I ask: “Do you have a smoke alarm?” It can double your chances of escaping death. Home smoke detectors have cut fire fatalities in half since they came on the market in the early 1970s.
Nevertheless, fires kill about 3,000 people a year in the U.S. Forty percent of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms (40 percent!)
- If you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one or as many as you need—today.
- Never deactivate them while cooking.
Did you know that most fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, rather than being burned to death, even though the dead body often becomes burned to a crisp (yes, TMI, but seriously)…? An escape route can be blocked by thick, dangerous smoke, not plumes of fire. A smoke detector can get you responding sooner and thus avoid fatal smoke inhalation.
- Exit the building when the alarm sounds.
- Then stay out. (Have a post-escape family meeting place pre-determined.)
- From a neighbor’s house call 9-1-1.
Smoke alarms can also signal a flashing light for the hearing impaired. Alarms are also available that trigger a vibration under your sleeping pillow.
The Importance of Drills
Plan an escape route, then run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room, even if that means out a window. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include the post-exit meeting place outside.
- Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.
- Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies and pets.
- Purchase a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.
- Every month (or at least every 6), clean dust from the alarms and push the test button.
- Never paint the alarm.
- Change the batteries every time you change your clocks.
An alarm that’s over 10 years old needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure how old they are, replace them.
Some door handles are fussy when you try and open them. Make sure your home is equipped with door handles that unlock then the door is opened from the inside, like the Schlage F51A. This lock allows homeowners to leave quickly and conveniently in an emergency.