This month JANUARY, four children died in a house fire outside Atlanta; the home's smoke alarms had no batteries. A day later, a mother and daughter died in a house fire in Akron, Ohio; the home had no smoke alarms. And the next day, a father and his four children died in a house fire in Kentucky; the home had no smoke alarm. Fire can happen anywhere, and the loss of life will continue unless we all spread the message of home fire safety together.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes in which no smoke alarm was present or at least one was present but didn't operate. I urge families to not only replace the batteries in their alarms, but also to think about the age of the alarm itself. All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. The National Association of State Fire Marshals recommends using a smoke alarm containing a sealed, long-life lithium battery. This type of alarm offers 10 years of warning and never needs its battery replaced.
Also, make sure your family has enough warning by placing smoke alarms on each floor, in living areas and inside and outside of sleeping area. These simple steps can go a long way to help save lives.
J. William Degan, Concord, N.H.
Degan is president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals.