(EDITOR’S NOTE: In support of the public safety with our citizens who live, work and play in Kosciusko County, the Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office has released this information referencing smoke detectors.)
The Indiana State Fire Marshal is reminding Hoosiers that it is not only crucial to have a working smoke alarm in your home, but it is also the law (IC 22-11-18-3.5). Working smoke alarms can double the chances of surviving a residential fire.
Indiana had 47 fatalities in 2011 and 2012 due to either non-working smoke alarms or having no smoke alarms at all. This year, Indiana has had 22 fatalities.
“Smoke alarms save lives, and a working smoke alarm is the best insurance against becoming a casualty in a house fire,” said Indiana State Fire Marshal James Greeson. “Firefighters too often find that in fatal fires, a home had smoke alarms but their batteries had been removed.”
Most home-fire casualties occur at night when people are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause residents to sleep more deeply, making the chances of survival slimmer.
By Indiana law, all dwellings must have at least one functioning smoke alarm installed outside each sleeping area, and on each level of the building. The smoke alarms must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Marshal Greeson also recommends the following regarding smoke alarms:
Test the alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps,” it means the battery is low and should be replaced immediately. The smoke alarms themselves should be replaced every 10 years.
For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home – when one sounds, they all sound.
Have a fire escape plan and practice it with your children. When the smoke alarm sounds, exit the home at once and meet at a set location.
In the event of an actual fire, call 9-1-1 and, once outside, stay outside.
Marshal Greeson also recommends having a carbon monoxide detector at home if any types of fuel (kerosene, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil or methane) are used for heating or cooking.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and nonirritating gas created when these fuels burn incompletely. It is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and can cause similar symptoms to the common cold or flu.
Hoosiers should follow these recommendations for carbon monoxide detectors:
- Install in a central location at eye level close to, but not in, the same room as the furnace, water heater or any appliance that uses these fuels.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month, replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
An indication of abnormal levels of carbon monoxide in the home may be nausea or a headache in the forehead area that gets better or goes away when you or a family member are at work or school, but then returns after hours of being back in the home.
Never leave a running vehicle in the garage, even if the doors are open.
During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors and away from windows, doors and vent openings.
Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO – only use outside.