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Smoke Alarms: The Most Efficient Way to Prevent Home Fire Tragedies

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 26-Oct-2010

Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior attorney

Each year, we are reminded by the American Red Cross, local fire departments and other agencies that October is Fire Safety Month.  Each year, we learn of tragic stories of families destroyed by fire, many of which could have been avoided by proper installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.  

Recent publications by the American Red Cross emphasizes some simple yet critical guidelines for helping to minimize the potential fire dangers faced by families.  We have reproduced one of the most recent articles below in its entirety for the benefit of our readers.

"Home Fires A Threat To All Of Us"

"Friday, October 15, 2010 — The American Red Cross and its 650 chapters respond to more than 63,600 home fires every year, or about 170 fires a day. Fire in the home is the most common threat to families in this country, and that danger increases as the weather turns colder and people turn to alternate sources to help heat their homes.

The use of such items as space heaters, fireplaces or coal or wood stoves can be dangerous if not used properly. Fires related to heating are the second leading cause of home fires in this country, and fixed and portable space heaters are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.

Smoke alarms are one of the best ways to protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire. They provide a few minutes of advance warning, and that extra time can save lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2003 to 2006, forty percent of all home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, while 23 percent resulted from homes in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate.

The Red Cross recommends you install the alarms on every level of the home, as well as inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas of the home. They should also be tested once a month by pushing the test button, and batteries should be replaced yearly or as soon as you hear a low battery warning, which appears as a "chirping" noise for many alarms. Other tips include:

  • Keep smoke alarms clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
  • Smoke alarms wear out. Replace your alarms every 10 years. If you can’t remember when you last replaced them, buy new alarms that are interconnected, if possible.
  • Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.

Only 26 percent of families have developed a family escape plan. To ensure the safety of your loved ones, make sure that all household members know ways to escape from every room of your home. Designate a meet-up spot outside the home in case of fire. This fire escape plan should be practiced at least twice a year. Each household member should also know how to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire."

For more information on Fire Safety and Prevention, visit www.redcross.org.

The safest home fire is the one that never occurs. Having an operational smoke detector in your home and educating your family with a sensible escape plan are the best ways to protect your family in the event of a home fire. 

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About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including premises liability, automobile accident, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Law and Politics (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

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