GREENCASTLE -- In an effort to better educate communities throughout the U.S. about smoke alarm recommendations, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is promoting "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!" as the theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, Sunday through Saturday, which Greencastle is supporting locally.
NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for 88 years.
"Many homes in Greencastle may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working," said Chief Bill Newgent of the Greencastle Fire Department. "We want residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. And, if a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced."
According to Chief Newgent, smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. NFPA statistics show that working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half.
But they must be working properly to do so. The association's data shows that many homes have smoke alarms that aren't working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
The Greencastle Fire Department will be hosting the 10th Annual Open House on Thursday during Fire Prevention Week to promote "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!" locally, and to help Greencastle residents understand NFPA's smoke alarm recommendations.
Through these educational, family-oriented activities residents can learn more about the power of smoke alarms, newer options for installing and maintaining them properly, and ultimately, how to better protect their loved ones from fire.
NFPA and the Greencastle Fire Department agree that interconnected smoke alarms offer the best protection; when one sounds, they all do. This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.
"Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes," said Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education. "Fire Prevention Week provides an excellent opportunity to re-educate people about smoke alarms, new technologies and expanded options for installation and maintenance.
"Ultimately, we want this year's campaign to serve as a call to action for households nationwide to inspect their homes to ensure that their families have the full smoke alarm protection that's recommended," she said.
The Greencastle Fire Department offers the following tips for making sure smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:
* Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.
* If an alarm "chirps" it is warning the battery is low. Replace the battery right away.
* Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they're 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.
* Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.
The Greencastle Fire Department invites anyone of all ages to come to the 10th Annual Open House from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Fire Station located at 107 S. Indiana St.
Enjoy free food, activities, tour the station and equipment, visit with Patches the Robot and grab a goody bag for the kids (limited quantity available).
To find out more about Open House or Fire Prevention Week programs in Greencastle, please contact the Greencastle Fire Department at 653-3108.
To learn more about "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!" visit NFPA's website at www.firepreventionweek.org