Special to the Opelika Observer

Every year fire departments around the nation observe October as the official “Fire Prevention Month” and remind their communities about easy-to-follow fire protection/safety activities so that everyone remains safe in the event of a fire. Opelika is joining in the effort to promote fire safety.

This year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!”

About Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8 but continued into, and did most of its damage on, Oct. 9, 1871.

Fire safety measures

Below are just a few of the fire safety measures everyone should take to stay safe:

1. Install smoke alarms at home

– Smoke alarms double one’s chances of surviving a fire.

– There should be a smoke alarm outside every bedroom and one on each level of the home, including the attic. Three out of every five reported home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that aren’t working.

– Test alarms once a month.

– Replace batteries at least once annually.

2. Develop an exit plan with family in the case of fire.

– Identify two ways out of every room.

– Establish a meeting place outside.

– Teach everyone to “get out” and then “stay out.”

– If smoke is present, stay low to the floor for cleaner, cooler air.

3. Fire Extinguishers in the home are a must – especially in the kitchen.

– Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen.

– Thirty-four percent of home cooking fires are due to unattended cooking.

4. Get your chimney and/or fixed space heaters checked and cleaned before each fall/winter season. Keep your heating equipment away from things that can burn, like upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

5. Check electrical devices for bad wiring; clean out the filters on clothes dryers after every use, and don’t forget to have inspections done on air conditioning/heating equipment, water heaters and electric ranges.

– About half of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment water heater and range.

– Electrical failure or malfunctions caused an average of almost 48,000 home fires per year, resulting in roughly 450 deaths and nearly $1.5 billion in direct property damage.

Candles are responsible for 3 percent of all home fires, 4 percent of home fire deaths and 7 percent of home fire injuries. Everyone is encouraged to make certain candles are extinguished before leaving the room.

Did you know?

Smoke alarms and alert devices are available for people who are deaf. Strobe lights throughout the home are activated by smoke alarms and alert people who are deaf to fire conditions. When people who are deaf are asleep, a high intensity strobe light is required along with a pillow or bed shaker to wake them up and alert them to fire conditions so they can escape. Currently this equipment is activated by the sound of a standard smoke alarm.

Smoke alarm alert devices are available for people who are hard of hearing. These accessories produce a loud, mixed low-pitched sound. This equipment is activated by the sound of the smoke alarm and is usually installed next to the bed. People who are deaf may find that a pillow or bed shaker is also helpful to wake them up.

Recent research has shown that a loud, mixed low-pitched sound is more effective for waking people of all ages than the loud high-pitched sound of a traditional smoke alarm. As people age, their ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases.

Smoke alarms with built in or separate strobe lights can be purchased through home improvement store websites or by searching the internet for “strobe light smoke alarms.”

Smoke alarm accessories such as bed/pillow shakers, transmitters and receivers are available through lifetonesafety.com, safeawake.com and silentcall.com. Make sure any smoke alarm or accessory device has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Information provided by www.nfpa.org/safety-information and www.nfpa.org/disabilities.