Much has changed since the original “Change Your Clocks, Check Your Smoke Alarms” message first appeared. Digital clocks change themselves, long-life batteries are common, and Congress is talking about getting rid of Daylight Saving Time changes altogether. But this year’s time change is still an important reminder to check your alarms and practice your home fire drill.
Ideally you should test all smoke alarms monthly, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Even for smoke alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. Test your CO detector too. They need to be replaced every 5-7 years.
74 percent of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home, according to the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA also warns that when a home fire occurs, it’s more likely to be serious. People are more likely to die in a home fire today than they were in 1980, because modern materials burn faster and hotter. You may have as little as 2 minutes to get out from the time the smoke alarms sound.
That’s why NFPA’s theme for Fire Prevention Week 2022 is “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™”
Everyone in your household should take part in planning your escape:
If anyone in your home has some hearing loss, they may have trouble hearing basic smoke alarms, because the sound they emit is high pitched. Now imagine if that person were asleep when the alarm goes off. Would it wake them? Consider these alternatives:
Vibrate or Shaker Smoke Alarms. These use a vibrating device to shake a bed or chair to awaken and alert you of fire.
A strobe smoke alarm. Strobe Alarms use an extra bright strobe light to alert you of fire. Some strobe alarms also include a vibrator device.
Even for smoke alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. So yes, you should still test your smoke alarms at least twice a year — the Daylight Saving Time change is a good reminder—and once a month is better, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association.
Our “Test Your Alarms” message includes your CO detector. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends pushing the test button on your CO detector (which tests whether the circuitry is operating correctly), to replace the detector at the age recommended by the manufacturer, and most importantly to go outside to fresh air immediately if it goes off.
That goes for smoke alarms too: When the alarms go off, you get out. Searching for the source of the CO or the fire could be a fatal mistake.
Why practice a home fire drill? Because even the best alarm can only protect your family if everyone knows what to do when it goes off. And if that happens at night when people are sleeping—the time when most fatal fires occur—it can be harder than you think to get up and out quickly.
Make sure hallways are kept clear of clutter and that everyone knows at least two ways of getting out—one of them may be a window—especially from bedrooms. Make sure everyone understands how important it is to go to your outside meeting place so if there is a fire you’ll know whether everyone is out. When the fire service arrives, tell them if everyone is at the meeting place and about any pets that may still be inside.
Prevention 1st has a long tradition of bringing creativity together with fire safety education. In the fall of 2021, the school districts in Monroe County received complimentary “Fire Drill Reminder” posters and an invitation for students in grades K-5 to enter the Prevention 1st 14th Annual Fire Safety Poster Contest. This year saw 109 local students, representing seven schools and three districts, heed the call by the January 22, 2022 deadline. Last year’s entries numbered 87.
“A pandemic of over two years has not dimmed enthusiasm for the poster contest,” said Charly Sommers, the program’s administrator. “The kids share their own unique messages, urging others to take steps to prevent fires as well as how to respond in the event of a fire emergency. Having the contest at Lifespan brings a lot of joy—people are starting to look forward to it now.”
This year’s winners were chosen by the staff of Lifespan, who recently took over Prevention 1st as an in-house program. “Lifespan has served the Rochester community for over 50 years, and we are very pleased to take on the work of Prevention 1st,” said Jody Rowe, Chief Operating Officer at Lifespan. “Providing safety and injury prevention education fits well with our mission to help older adults and caregivers take on both the challenges and opportunities of longer life. Interacting with school-age children through the poster contest is uplifting and offers an intergenerational opportunity.”
Qualifying posters were arranged across surfaces in a meeting room, grouped according to grade level. Each employee was given one vote, or “ticket” to be dropped onto their favorite poster in each grade level. Tickets were counted and removed frequently to prevent the influence of popularity. Those who couldn’t vote in person were invited to vote online.
The votes have now all been tallied and Lifespan is pleased to present the results of this year’s Prevention 1st Annual Poster Contest:
Kindergarten: Dylan T. (Listwood, West Irondequoit), submitted by Ms. Nassimos
Honorable mentions: Rhea M., Eloise T., Brooklyn C. (Seneca, West Irondequoit), also submitted by Ms. Nassimos
1st Grade: Remas A. (RISE Community, RCSD #106), submitted by Ms. Riemer
Honorable mentions: Thaddaeus D., Elliany B. (RISE Community, RCSD #106), also submitted by Ms. Riemer
2nd Grade: Ellie K. (Colebrook, West Irondequoit), submitted by Mrs. Ellis
Honorable mentions: Yohana E., Jayden C., Arianna B. (RISE Community, RCSD #106), submitted by Ms. Riemer
3rd Grade: Jimmy N. (Southlawn, West Irondequoit), submitted by Mrs. Stewart
Honorable mentions: Noah N. (Colebrook, West Irondequoit), submitted by Ms. Edell; Emma M. (Southlawn, West Irondequoit), submitted by Mrs. Stewart
4th Grade: MiKenzie B. (Chestnut Ridge, Churchville-Chili), submitted by Mrs. Chalifoux
Honorable mentions: Grace M. (Rogers, West Irondequoit), submitted by Ms. LaPierre; Amaris M. (Chestnut Ridge, Churchville-Chili), submitted by Mrs. Chalifoux
5th Grade: Angelise Torres (Abelard Reynolds, RCSD #42), submitted by Ms. Graham
Honorable mentions: Isla B., Jaylani M., Adaniel M.G. (Abelard Reynolds, RCSD #42), submitted by Ms. Graham
Qualifying posters met the size guidelines (11” x 17”) and did not contain any personal information on the front of the poster. First prize winners in each category will receive a $50 gift card, and their schools will each receive a check for $200 from Prevention 1st at Lifespan. First prize winners and Honorable Mentions also receive merit ribbons, and all entrants receive a certificate of appreciation for their work.
The coveted Grand Prize, a ride to school on a fire truck, was determined by raffle, open to all students who entered the contest. This year’s Grand Prize winner is: Eric B., a fifth grade student from Abelard Reynolds School #42 (RCSD). Prevention 1st will coordinate the ride to school for Eric when the weather is more agreeable.
Contest posters will be on display at various locations around town beginning April 2022, including the Monroe County Government Office building, Rochester City Hall, and the Frederick Douglass Airport. “We’re also considering putting up some of these posters at our Lifespan service centers,” Sommers said, “as a way of one generation looking after and connecting with another.”
Lifespan conducts this and other programs with the help of volunteers. To find out more about Volunteering with Prevention 1st at Lifespan, please contact us at: https://prevention1st.org/home/contact/.
Most people use the gift of an extra hour given by the fall Daylight Saving Time change to catch a few extra Zzzs. Go for it—and when you get up, use another minute to test your alarms.
Ideally you should test all smoke alarms monthly, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. For sure, let the biannual time change be a great reminder. Even for smoke alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. Test your CO detectors too. They need to be replaced every 5-7 years.
While having a working smoke alarm is important, it’s just as important that everyone knows what to do if it goes off. Make sure everyone in your home knows to get moving right away, because you probably have less time than you think to escape.
When you plan your escape route, include where outside you will all meet. Your meeting place should be a safe distance from your home but where firefighters can see you. Choose something very specific that everyone can remember and find easily: a tree, a telephone pole, or mailbox.
Do you need to update your escape plan? Look around and think about what’s changed in the last 6 months or year. Has an older adult joined your household? Consider whether they should sleep in a room on the ground floor to make escape easier. If anyone in your household has diminished hearing, consider a type of smoke alarm that uses a low frequency, flashing light or vibration.
This year many people are welcoming a return to holiday gatherings. Will guests be staying over? Tell visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan, including your meeting place. Show overnight guests how to open deadbolts or security bars. When you or your children are staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan.
People often debate the value of Daylight Saving Time. But there’s no debating the value of using this biannual change as a reminder to check your smoke alarm and CO detectors.
Even for smoke
alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to
make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work
for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. So yes, you should still test your smoke alarms at least twice a year — once a month is better, as
recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Replace smoke alarms
after 10 years.
This is also a good time to check your
CO detectors. Press and hold the Test Button on the front of the alarm until the alarm
sounds (it may take up to 20 seconds). And look on the back, or near the
battery compartment, for the date of manufacture. Most have a lifespan of no more than 7 years.
Once you know your alarms are working, make sure everyone in your home
knows what to do when the alarm goes off. Getting out may be more complicated
than you think, especially if there are young children or people with
disabilities in your home. And anyone may find it hard to respond quickly if
the alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Go to homefiredrill.org to learn
how to plan and practice a home fire drill.
campfire casts a warm glow and a sense of adventure—even if it’s in your own
backyard. Cooking dinner outside on a grill can make any meal “our favorite!”
This year, being outside is a special pleasure. As we move outdoors and bring
fire with us, it’s important to bring safety as well.
Pick your spot carefully. Whether it’s a grill or firepit, make sure it’s well away from houses and sheds, vehicles, shrubs and trees including low-hanging branches.
Enforce a “3-Foot Rule” just as you do for the stove. Keep children and pets at least three feet from the fire or grill.
Never use gasoline or kerosene on either a grill or a campfire. If you’re using starter fluid with your grill, never put the fluid on a hot grill. Make sure lighter fluids are stored securely and away from children.
Resist the belief that bigger is better when it comes to campfires! A roaring blaze can more easily get out of control, and can send embers long distances.
Just as you wouldn’t leave the stove unattended, never leave your campfire or grill unattended. Put a campfire out completely before you go to bed. When you’re done with a charcoal grill, let the coals cool completely before moving or storing it.
Store lighters and matches out of sight and reach of children.
Model safe behavior for your children, treating fire with respect. Avoid assigning fire tasks to children too young to understand fire risk or react if something unexpected happens. To learn more about what children understand about fire.