Did you know that smoke alarms are the most effective tool to help you survive a house fire? Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms. Our firefighters have firsthand experience with this; in the past year, we’ve responded to serious fire-related injuries that likely could have been prevented by the extra warning from a smoke alarm.
Because we recognize the important role that smoke alarms play in keeping our residents safe, the Victoria Fire Department has set a goal for our community to have working smoke alarms in 90% of homes by 2025.
One of the ways we are working toward this goal is by providing no-cost smoke alarm installations for residents in need. We’ve partnered with Keep Victoria Beautiful to attend their neighborhood cleanups, giving out smoke alarms and educating residents about how to use them. This outreach is made possible by generous grants from community partners; the program is currently funded by a grant from LyondellBasell.
Installing enough smoke alarms and using them properly can greatly improve your chances of getting to safety before a fire spreads. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your smoke alarms:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom.
- It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms after 10 years.
- Smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling or high on the wall.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month.
- There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use both types of alarms in the home.
If your organization would like to donate to the smoke alarm program, or if you would like to receive a smoke alarm, call the City of Victoria Fire Marshal’s Office at 361-485-3460.
As the colder weather finally sets in, remember that some types of fires are especially common during the winter months. Here are some seasonal hazards to keep in mind:
- Keep space heaters away from electrical hazards and flammable materials.
- Do not let a space heater run overnight or in an unattended location.
- Clean your chimney once a year or, if you don’t use it often, every few years.
- Do not try to heat your home with an electrical or gas-powered oven.
- Make sure pilot lights on gas-powered appliances are burning blue. If they aren’t, they could be releasing carbon monoxide.
The Fire Marshal’s Office offers free home safety inspections to help you identify potential fire hazards in your home. To schedule an inspection, call the Fire Marshal’s Office at 361-485-3460.
To learn more about Victoria Fire Department programs and services, visit www.victoriatx.gov/fire.
Robert T. Fox is the fire chief for the City of Victoria Fire Department.