Change your smoke alarm batteries when you turn back clocks on Nov. 2nd

By
Home Builder with Wasson's Construction, Cleaning, Restoration, Plumbing, Boar

The holidays are fast approaching, which means we are entering peak fire season.  Some people think the peak season of wildfires is over and we're safe because of the upcoming rains.  But we're talking about a different fire season:  the fires that occur in your home due to increased usage of candles, fire places, space heaters, older furnaces, and holiday lights.  Here's a tip: Change the batteries in your smoke alarms before the holidays.

According to the Monterey County Fire Investigators Association, Monterey County has witnessed tragic home fire deaths over the last six years; seven residents have died in residential fires without working smoke alarms. Non-working smoke alarms rob residents of the protective benefits that home fire safety devices were designed to provide. The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms are worn or missing batteries.

"Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. In fact, working smoke alarms nearly cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire. Additionally, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends replacing your smoke alarms every ten years", per Dan Gearhart, Division Chief of Seaside Fire Department, in a recent MCFIA press release.

The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10:00 PM. and 6:00 AM when most families are sleeping. Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.  Here are some statistics:

Fire Fatalities - 96% of homes have smoke alarms and 23% of these smoke alarms do not work.

83% of civilian fire-related deaths are from home fires and 80% of fires are in homes without working smoke alarms.

Children - Approximately 1,000 children under the age of 20 die each year in home fires. Children under age five are at twice the risk of dying in a home fire. Eighty percent of fatal home fire victims who were children were killed in homes without working smoke alarms.

Seniors - Adults over age 75 are three times more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population; those over 85 are 4.5 times more likely to die in a home fire. Many seniors are unable to escape quickly.

Low-Income Households - many low-income families are unable to afford batteries for their smoke alarms. These same households often rely on poorly installed, maintained or misused portable or area heating equipment- a main cause of fatal home fires.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half by providing an early warning and critical extra seconds to escape.

To save lives and prevent needless injuries, the Monterey County Fire Investigators Association urge all Monterey County residents to adopt a simple, lifesaving habit: Change your smoke alarm batteries when changing your clocks back to standard time each Fall, this year on November 2, 2008.

"Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing someone who has just lost their home, their life's' possessions, and in some horrible cases, their family members." said David Wasson, President of the Wasson's companies that specialize in water and fire damage cleanup, reconstruction, and board-ups.  "It is their darkest day, and we do our best to help them put their lives back together.  However, if we can help them make sure their smoke alarms are in good, working order, we can help prevent the loss.  It's our way of helping our community."

"But what about the elderly who cannot climb a ladder to replace their batteries?" asked Jennifer Filzen, Marketing Director of 1-800-BoardUp, a division of Wasson's Construction.  "They are the ones who are the most vulnerable, and we want to help them.  1-800-BoardUp is offering a free Fire Safety Audit for the elderly, disabled, and just plain anyone who needs assistance.  We will audit the home free of charge.  If we see that batteries need replacing or we need to install new smoke alarms in key locations, we'll do it for a nominal fee."  For more information about this service, call 1-800-BoardUp at 831-883-3305.

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