National Fire Safety Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8, 1871. The former American President, Calvin Coolidge, proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week in 1925 in memory of those who perished in that Fire. Since then, in early October, it has been observed each year in countries around the world.
Many years on, the message regarding fire prevention and fire safety is as relevant today as it ever was.
This year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Test Yours Weekly” or “Sábhálann aláraim deataigh atá ag obair i gceart saolta – déan tástáil orthu go rialta”.
Fit smoke alarms today and make sure they are in good working order. Working smoke alarms will warn you if there is a fire. Remember: Your sense of smell does not work when you are asleep and smoke can put you in a deeper sleep.
If someone in the home has deafness or impaired hearing, they may not hear an audible warning from a smoke alarm, e.g. if not wearing a hearing aid at night. There are smoke alarm systems on the market that use strobe lights or vibrating pads to give alert of danger from fire. These offer improved warning for people who may have difficulty hearing a smoke alarm with audible warning.
Smoke alarms may be tested by pressing the test button with the handle tip of a floor brush.
Replace the batteries when they are not working and once a year in standard alarms, or as soon as you hear the warning beep.
If you have 10 year smoke alarms, you need to replace the whole alarm after 10 years.
Get at least one smoke alarm for each floor in the home. Fit them between the sleeping areas and the kitchen & living rooms – one in the hallway at ground floor, and one at each upper level, in the landing. For an enhanced level of protection, consideration may also be given to fitting alarms in living rooms and kitchen, in bedrooms used by vulnerable people, or in bedrooms where there is a television or large electrical appliance (such as a computer). (Heat alarms may be considered where fumes from cooking or smoke from cigarettes or open fires could lead to unwanted alarms.)
Position smoke alarms at ceiling level in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
Vacuum the smoke alarms regularly and wipe the cover. If they get clogged with dust they may not work properly.
Play your part during National Fire Safety Week. Check out the rest of the website and find out how you can help to prevent and detect fires in your home. It could save your life one day!
Things to note
- Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly before going to bed
- Be extra careful if you have been drinking alcohol or are feeling drowsy
- Never smoke in bed
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of young children
- Most people who die in fires, die from smoke inhalation and not from burns and it can take as little as 3 minutes to die from smoke inhalation
- Get a smoke alarm fitted and check it regularly to ensure it is in full working order
- Have a fire escape plan, teach it to your family and practise it regularly.