Most fatal house fires start at night when residents are asleep inside. Although many people mistakenly believe that if their house caught fire, the smoke would wake them, that is not always the case. Poisonous gases from the fire can numb the senses, putting persons asleep inside into an even deeper sleep.
Smoke alarms may wake you up sooner, allowing you extra time to escape, thereby cutting your risk of dying in a house fire in half.
For minimum protection, a smoke alarm should be placed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. The Shawnee Municipal Code requires a smoke alarm to be placed outside of the sleeping areas of any newly constructed home and one smoke alarm on each floor of the house, including the basement. Since smoke rises, alarms should be mounted high on the wall (4"-12" from the ceiling) or on the ceiling. Smoke alarms should not be installed too close to windows, doors, or forced-air registers, where drafts could interfere with their operation.
Once installed, it is equally important to change the batteries regularly. Smoke alarms should also be cleaned at least once a year, since dust or cobwebs can decrease the device's smoke sensitivity.
Being awakened by a smoke detector is not enough. You and your family should develop an escape plan, with two possible escape routes from each room, so everyone knows what to do if there is a fire.
For additional information, contact the Shawnee Fire Department at (913) 631-1080.