Chief Lohman: Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Courtesy of Turlock Fire Department

The following is an Op-Ed written by Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman.

The Turlock Fire Department works hard to educate the youth in our community about fire prevention, but this question is directed at the adults living in Turlock. When was the last time you tested the smoke alarms in your home? Was it last week, last month, or last year? If you are like most people, you may not even remember the last time you tested them. Smoke alarms have become such a common feature in U.S. homes that they are often taken for granted and aren’t tested or maintained as they should be.

We know first-hand that working smoke alarms are a critical fire safety tool that can help alert you and your family in a home fire. According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoke alarms can cut the chance of someone dying in a home fire in half. Meanwhile, NFPA data shows that home fire killed more than 2,300 people in the United States in 2012. Many of these deaths could have been prevented with the proper smoke alarm detection.

I have had the privilege of serving the citizens of Turlock for over 34 years in the fire department. I have seen the devastating effects of a fire many times and I know that smoke detectors can make the difference between early detection and severe personal loss. My plea to the adults in Turlock is to test your smoke detectors and make sure that they are operating correctly.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you are unsure about how to test your smoke detector. It can be confusing, and leaning on the guidance and expertise of professionals is always encouraged. You may even want to have a look at this site to find reputable electricians in your area who can perform the task for you if you can’t do it yourself. It could help to save a life, maybe even yours. So please, test your smoke detectors as often as you can.

I write this message to you as we prepare for Fire Prevention Week starting October 5, 2014. NFPA is the official sponsor and this year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!”

Both Turlock Fire and Police Departments will be hosting our annual open house at the Turlock Public Safety Center on October 25th and we will have staff available to assist you with any questions that you may have about smoke detectors. In addition, if you are elderly and have no way of testing your smoke detector call Turlock Fire Department and we will have an engine company stop by your home to assist you.

Here are some additional smoke alarm tips to follow:
*Install smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level.
*Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
*Test alarms each month by pushing the test button.
*Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner.
*Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound and understands what to do when they hear a smoke alarm.

Turlock Fire Department is ready to respond when called, but we would much rather try to prevent injury and property loss and that starts with properly working smoke detectors.   

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