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.
How many button batteries are in your home? After counting remotes, key fobs and toys, don’t forget the ones in thermometers, scales, and even singing greeting cards. Small batteries are everywhere, and that can spell danger for children.
According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, from 2010 to 2019 there was an average of one battery-related pediatric visit to the emergency department every 1.25 hours, up from one every 2.66 hours in the previous decade. The majority were children under 5, who swallow batteries or put them in their nose or ears.
Reese’s Law, enacted this summer, will require that devices with button batteries carry a warning label to keep the batteries out of children’s reach and ensure they have child-resistant battery compartments. But adult awareness and supervision are still the best way to protect children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
Check which electronic devices contain button batteries, and keep them out of children’s reach.
As with matches and lighters, keep all batteries locked and out of sight of young children.
Promptly recycle dead batteries or put them outside in a garbage can.
If you think your child might have swallowed a battery, or put it in their nose or ears, don’t hesitate. Call poison control and head to the emergency department immediately.
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:
Disasters and emergencies—fires, floods, storms and other hazards — can happen at any time, in any location. Launched in 2004, National Preparedness Month is FEMA’s national annual preparedness outreach to remind us all of the need to be prepared for such emergencies, whether evacuating and sheltering.
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/.
Beginning in January 2022 Prevention 1st will be a program of Lifespan of Greater Rochester, which shares our mission of helping older adults and others be safe at home. Prevention 1st delivered its first class with Lifespan in November 2021, and we look forward to presenting more safety workshops in 2022. We’ll be starting with Lifespan sites in the Rochester, NY community where other classes and workshops are given: The Lily Café at the Maplewood YMCA on January 10, and St. Bernard’s Park Apartments on February 7.
You can still sign up as a volunteer by visiting the Prevention 1st website. Note that after January 1, our donation page will route to Lifespan’s online donation page. Be sure to indicate your gift is to support Prevention 1st, using the “Purpose of Donation” field. Checks mailed to Prevention 1st in care of Lifespan will continue to be routed to program staff.
Prevention 1st has formed a partnership with Lifespan of Greater Rochester, which shares our mission of helping older adults and others be safe at home. Beginning in January, Prevention 1st will become a program of Lifespan.
Prevention 1st delivered its first class with Lifespan on November 15 as part of Lifespan’s free “Information and Inspiration” series. Thanks to Nancy Lane, who did a great job in Prevention 1st’s very first 1-hour in-person/zoom hybrid class.
The class was very well received and the group asked some great questions. We also received kudos from the training manager who sat in on the class. We look forward to presenting more safety workshops in 2022.
Prevention 1st will offer “Home Safety Strategies” on November 15 as part of Lifespan’s free “Information and Inspiration” series. Learn how to make your home safe by identifying common hazards that make you vulnerable to fires, falls, and preventable accidents..
The session will be in-person (masks required) at Lifespan, 1900 S. Clinton Ave, Rochester, NY.