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Renton Residents Reminded that Smoke Alarms Save Lives

William Flora, Deputy Fire Chief, 425-430-7000
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director, 425-430-6569

October 3-9 is Fire Prevention Week

RENTON - October 3-9 is Fire Prevention Week and the Renton Fire & Emergency Services Department is asking residents to use this time to install, maintain and test their smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are a life-saving device designed to be the first line of defense to help families safely escape a residential fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of all home fire deaths occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when occupants are asleep.  Most fatalities happen in homes without working smoke alarms.

“When smoke alarms are properly maintained they can sense smoke when a fire is still small, alerting occupants of imminent danger and allowing time to escape,” said Deputy Fire Chief William Flora. “Contrary to what some believe, the smell of smoke does not typically wake you up; in fact, smoke contains many poisonous gases that numb the senses and can put a person into an even deeper sleep.” Working smoke alarms significantly increase the chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

The following are key points about smoke alarms everyone should know:

  • Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including basements.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming type fires.
  • A photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.
  • When extra time is needed to awaken or assist others both types of alarms are recommended.
  • Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the warning of the smoke alarm and how to respond.
  • Dust or vacuum smoke alarms annually and/or whenever the battery is changed.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years.
  • If a long-life battery operated smoke alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year or when the alarm chirps.
  • Replace smoke alarms if they are more than ten years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

If you have questions about smoke alarms or want to learn more about fire safety, please call the Fire & Emergency Services Department at 425-430-7000 or visit rentonwa.gov.