Fire Prevention Week spotlights smoke alarms

South Dakota is joining other states in observing National Fire Prevention Week, and State Fire Marshal Al Christie says this is a good time to check smoke alarms.

The theme of Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3-9) is "Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with.'' Christie urges South Dakota citizens to review fire protection in their homes and businesses and to check smoke alarms to make sure they are operating properly.

"The point of the Fire Prevention Week theme is that the sound of a smoke alarm may be the thing that saves you or your loved ones,'' Christie said. "While many South Dakotans make a check of smoke alarms part of their home-safety routine, it is true that some homes don't have alarms or have too few to protect the occupants.''

Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire, Christie said. National Fire Prevention Association statistics show that nearly 3,000 people each year die in home fires. The association also said about two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with no working smoke alarms.

South Dakota has had 12 fire deaths this year, including eight deaths in single-family structures, Christie said.

Here are some tips for making sure smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:

• Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.

• If an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

• Replace smoke alarms, including those that use 10-year batteries or are hard-wired, when they're 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

•  Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

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