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Smoke alarms are something your home can't be without

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A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death.  In line with Fire Prevention week, the Guam Fire Department is reminding the community that safety starts at home. This year's theme for Fire Prevention Week is, "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere."  

Guam Fire Department's Lieutenant Philip Camacho is with the Fire Prevention Bureau, and told KUAM News, "So it's look for the flames. Listen for the alarm. And learn two ways out of your room or your residence."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 50% of all fatal home fires occur when people are sleeping. That's why smoke detectors are so essential. Most people in a house fire die of smoke inhalation first, dying in their sleep.  They can warn you before you smell smoke and give you time to get to safety.  One commonality in the majority of house-fire deaths on Guam (and nationwide) is either no smoke detectors or no working smoke detectors.

 "16-75% of individuals do have smoke detectors in their homes, so there's a 25% that don't," Camacho continued.

Here are some important things to remember when installing smoke detectors:

-  To be extra safe, install one both outside and inside all sleeping areas. Having at least two smoke detectors in your home makes it far less likely that both will be inoperative at the same time.

-  If your home's smoke detectors are powered by electricity, add at least one battery-powered detector in case of power outages.

-  Test smoke detectors monthly. Never disconnect the batteries.

-  Test your alarms while your children sleep to make sure they will wake them up. Sometimes the sound of a smoke alarm doesn't wake small children.

-  Change batteries at least once a year, whether the batteries seem weak or not. Listen for the detector's signal or beep that indicates a weak battery and change it immediately.

-  Follow the manufacturer's instructions to clean your smoke detectors. Excessive dust, grease or other materials may cause them to operate improperly.

"It's not Fire Prevention Week, its prevention 365 a year," Camacho reminded the community. "The fire department's motto is 'to Preserve Life and Protect Property.' So life is always first. So they can help us by being safe as possible at home."

For more information, you can contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at 646-8810 or visit www.nfpa.org and search 'smoke alarms.'

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