Safety tips for smoke detectors and space heaters - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Safety tips for smoke detectors and space heaters

Smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of your home, high on the wall or ceilings. Source: WBRC video Smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of your home, high on the wall or ceilings. Source: WBRC video
Safety tips about smoke detectors from Birmingham firefighters. Source: WBRC Safety tips about smoke detectors from Birmingham firefighters. Source: WBRC
Birmingham Fire Chief C.W. Mardis. Source: WBRC video Birmingham Fire Chief C.W. Mardis. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

It's less than two months into the new year and Birmingham has already had six fire-related fatalities.

"Anytime we have one, that is too many. It's always going to be a concern," Birmingham Fire Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis said.

The Birmingham Fire Department has been pushing a safety program for 10 years called "Get Alarm Birmingham," which aims to put smoke alarms in people's houses. The fire department will offer up to two free alarms for households.

"Most of the fatalities we have had we have determined many don't have [smoke] detectors. A vast majority of them ultimately," Mardis said.

The fire department recommends these safety tips:

-First install, smoke alarms on every level of your home.

-Test at least once monthly.

-Install high on the wall or ceiling.

-Don't forget to replace batteries at once a year. Replace hard-wired smoke alarms after 10 years or sooner.

"We do advise you have both [battery and hard-wired] systems. You could never tell what can happen. Power could go out, things of that nature. So you have to have a back-up system. We recommend both." Mardis said.

Finally a big safety tip: Practice with your family how to get out of the home in the case of a fire.

"Have two ways to get out whether it's a door or a window. Too many times people failed go out a window. They try to reach a door and die at the door, pass two or three windows," Mardis said.

Space heaters are another safety concern when it comes to preventing fires. Fire investigators believe a space heater is responsible for a 74-year-old man's death on Delta Street Wednesday.

The Birmingham Fire Department recommends caution when dealing with space heaters.

"We just got to remind people space heaters do need space, at least three feet all the way around. Don't use extension cords for space heaters and the space heater is only a temporary source of heat," Lt. Bryan Harrell said.

Harrel said space heaters should not be used for an extended period of time and certainly not overnight while you sleep.

Other tips: Check periodically for a secured plug outlet. Heaters should be on a flat level surface. If it's a liquid powered space heater, use the manufacture's amount and never use gasoline.

With more cold weather on the way, the fire department believes more deaths could occur.

"We do think it's the weather and we want to get the message out, awareness and space heater safety," Harrell said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 25,000 residential fires every year in the nation taking more than 300 deaths.

If you are a Birmingham resident interested in getting a smoke detector, please contact the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Department's Fire Prevention Bureau at 250-7540 or call the Department's Public Education Bureau at 250-7525.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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