Thursday, August 18, 2011

It happened again: Fire deaths preventable had there been a smoke detector

It happens every year, several times a year, but people still don't get the message. Smoke detectors aren't an extra doodad for your home - they are a vital part of your safety. Yet, hundreds of people die in fires when they would likely have lived had they had a functioning smoke detector in their home.

It happened again this week in Montreal, Canada. A kitchen fire, not that big but very smoky, took the life of a father and his three year old son. The boy's mother was clinging to life, but the news just reported that she died this morning. The sad part? When firefighters arrived on the scene, they couldn't get the front door open - something was blocking it. It was the bodies of the three people inside. They made it to the front door, but couldn't open it.

Deaths send another tragic message

Senseless deaths that could have, and should have, been avoided. They died from smoke inhalation, not the fire.

According to the local news, as always after a situation like this, local firefighters and students went door-to-door to check on neighbouring homes and whether they had functioning smoke detectors. Not surprisingly, many did not. Some had detectors but no batteries. One family had something taped over the beeper so it wasn't so loud. The firefighter who saw that one said that the alarm would not have been loud enough to wake someone from a sound sleep.

The United States Fire Administration reports that there were 356,200 fires in the U.S. in 2009; 2,480 people died and 12,600 were injured. Not all deaths and injuries were due to smoke inhalation, but they do count high in the numbers. has good information on using smoke detectors, where they should be installed and how to maintain them. If you are a renter, check your rental agreements. In many places, the building owners are required by law to provide the detectors but the tenants are required to keep them in working order.

If your landlord won't provide you with a detector, this is not something you want to be without. Consider it an investment in your and your family's lives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Oregon, landlords are required to provide smoke detectors and keep them maintained. And as of this year, CO detectors as well if there is any combustion heating in the home.