Smoke alarm
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This Sunday, Nov. 5, millions of Americans will be turning back their clocks and snoozing for an extra hour. And while daylight saving time might be a good excuse to sleep a little longer, it is also a good reminder to check your smoke alarms.

On average, seven people die in a home fire in the U.S. every day. A working smoke alarm can reduce your chance of dying in a home fire by 50 percent, but nearly 60 percent of home fire deaths occur in households that do not have working smoke alarms. In a home fire, seconds count, and can mean the difference between escaping a fire safely or tragedy. There are important steps you can take to prevent tragedy from happening:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. If possible, use interconnected smoke alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.

• Test your smoke alarms monthly. Press the test button to make sure the alarm is working.

• Use daylight saving time as a reminder to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms at least once a year. You should replace the batteries even if the smoke alarm is hardwired into your home’s electrical system. If the electricity goes out, the alarm relies on the batteries as back-up.

• Create a fire escape plan with everyone in your household. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. You should know two ways out of each room. For easy planning, download National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) escape planning grid at nfpa.org. This is a wonderful way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.

• Practice your fire escape plan twice a year – once at night and once during the day. Teach children to “get low and go” if there is smoke when leaving the home.

• As you leave your home, close the doors behind you. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

• And finally, teach everyone in the household that once you are outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

These important steps can help you protect yourself and your loved ones. You can find more helpful information regarding home fire safety at nfpa.org, or safekids.org/fire.

Jason Butler of the Missoula Rural Fire District is a Safe Kids Missoula Coalition member.

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