About 3,000 people in the United States lose their lives in residential fires every year. Most fire victims die from the inhalation of toxic gases and smoke, not as a result of burns, and most fire deaths occur at night while the victims are asleep.
Since 1999, about 60 people have died and another 250 were injured in Jacksonville residential fires. In addition, more than 200 firefighters were injured while conducting search and rescue operations and while working to extinguish those fires. None of those fatalities, and only a few of the injuries to occupants, occurred in structures with working smoke alarms.
A working smoke alarm can double the chance of survival in a house fire by warning residents when there's still time to escape. Smoke alarms save lives, prevent injuries and minimize property damage by providing an early warning to a potentially deadly fire. A working smoke alarm is one of the best and least expensive means of warning residents about a fire.
Install a smoke detector on each level of your home near stairwells and bedrooms to maximize protection. Change the batteries on smoke detectors when you change your clocks to or from Daylight Savings Time, and test them once a month. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and never take the battery out for other uses.
If a battery-powered smoke alarm begins to chirp, the battery should be replaced immediately with a new one.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department will provide and install a free smoke detector to any Jacksonville resident living in a single or two-family residence. The department also will install replacement batteries in existing smoke detectors at no charge.
For a free smoke detector or to arrange to have the batteries in an existing device replaced, call 904-630-CITY or 904-255-3286.
Businesses, organizations and individuals wanting to help prevent residential fire deaths through increased use of smoke detectors can do so by contributing to the Fire Safety Program Trust Fund. Call 904-630-0445 for more information.
For more information about smoke detectors and home escape plans, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.