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Now is the time to change smoke alarm batteries and do a family escape plan, officials say

The start of the New Year is a great time for Colleton County residents to either change the batteries in their smoke detectors or do a full-house sweep for the installation of new smoke alarms in their house.
“Smoke detectors are inexpensive devices that can alert you to the presence of smoke in your home. They work 24 hours a day, and are especially important when you are sleeping,” said Barry McRoy, chief/director of Colleton County Fire-Rescue. “More people are killed by smoke during a fire than the actual flames,” he said.
“The detectors alert you to the fire early, so you can escape and call 911.”
Colleton County Fire-Rescue can provide free smoke detectors to anyone who contacts them. The local and countywide firefighting agencies can also help install them at request. For more information on this service, contact the CCFR Headquarters at 843-539-1960.
According to McRoy, “older-style alarms” should have the batteries changed at least annually. Newer alarms tend to come with batteries that last for about 10 years, he said.
“If you have children or an elderly person living in your home, you should have smoke detectors on each floor and near the bedrooms,” said McRoy. “Children should be taught what the sound means, and know-how to react when the device alarms.” An escape plan is something taught by local firefighters in schools, as part of fire prevention programs. These programs are taught each October in schools throughout the Colleton County School District.
In addition to local efforts, there is also a South Carolina Fire Injury Prevention Program, which provides smoke alarm installation services to residents throughout the state. This program also comes with a fire safety education course.
As a part of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the state agency partners with local fire departments to give out residential smoke alarms to people who need them.
According to information provided by DHEC, a residential fire alarm can decrease the risk of death in a fire by 40 to 50 percent.
Recent statistics compiled by DHEC state that nearly 30 percent of all deaths in South Carolina house fires was because there was not a working smoke alarm in that residence. Those same statistics also state that a lack of smoke alarms contributed to about 1,346 non-fatal injuries in South Carolina in recent years.
Smoke alarm tips from S.C. DHEC include:
• SCDHEC officials say that there should be a smoke alarm installed on each floor of a house, with one specifically installed outside of bedrooms.
• The alarms should be checked monthly to make sure they are working properly.
• Kerosene heaters should not be left unattended.
• Fire evacuation plans should be something that each household discusses, with each child knowing the plan.
• Portable heaters in a house should be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
• Never leave a portable heater on overnight.
• Don’t empty smoldering ashes in a trashcan.
• Smoke alarms should never be installed near garages or within the peaks of an A-Frame ceiling. Smoke alarms should not be placed in a humid area, like a bathroom.
• Smoke alarms should not be placed near fluorescent lighting because this could cause a false alarm.

Heather Walters (1691 Posts)