Tahoe chief’s corner: Please remember to check your smoke alarms | SierraSun.com

Tahoe chief’s corner: Please remember to check your smoke alarms

Ryan Sommers
Chief’s Corner

Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.

A recent survey conducted by NFPA stated that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern because smoke alarms don’t last forever.

I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly. That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate our residents and students about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.

As the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, NFPA is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old. Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15, 2016.

Our fire district will be hosting station tours for our schools over the next few weeks teaching our students the importance of fire safety in the home, having working smoke detectors and making a home fire escape plan.

We will also be meeting with our residents in the Tomahawk, War Bonnet and Peace Pipe neighborhood at the “Whispering Pines Pow Wow” neighborhood block party on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We will be discussing proper placement and use of smoke alarms, defensible space and evacuation preparedness. Red Cross will also be on hand and will be assisting us with smoke alarm installations for those folks that need assistance. Please come and join us.

To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). We also recommend testing your smoke alarms monthly, and that batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.

NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.

For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” visit firepreventionweek.org.

“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Ryan Sommers, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.