Drill to communicate fire safety message

By R. Scott Lohman

The first National Fire Safety Drill will hit DeKalb Saturday.

As a result of more than 5,000 deaths and 200,000 injuries because of fires, the DeKalb Fire Department, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Energizer batteries will fight to reduce and prevent home fire tragedies in our community, DeKalb Assistant Fire Chief Joe Jones said.

He said the three groups will communicate the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” message this year with the first National Fire Safety Drill.

The DeKalb Fire Department will sound the fire sirens at 6 p.m. tomorrow in “Operation Check and Change,” Jones said. This will be done one day before the time change in order to signal to millions of Americans that it is time to change the batteries in their smoke detectors, he said.

Jones said, “Each year thousands of people needlessly die or are injured in home fires.” He also said many of them would be alive or unharmed today if their homes been equipped with working smoke detectors.”

“A working smoke detector cuts the risk of dying in a home fire by half,” Jones said. This “provides an early warning and critical extra seconds to escape.”

He said that about 82 percent of American homes have some detectors, but nearly one-third of those don’t work because of worn or missing batteries.

The IAFC recommends changing smoke detectors annually at the very least. High-quality alkaline batteries usually will keep the detectors going for a full year, Jones said.

A few other safety precautions that Jones suggests are these:

‘Check smoke detectors. Install at least one smoke detector on every level of a home, including the basement, family room and most importantly, near bedrooms.

‘Vacuum smoke detectors. Monthly cleaning of dust and cobwebs off detectors is recommended because they impair the detector’s


‘Change flashlight batteries. A working flashlight should be kept near beds, in the kitchen, basement and family room. They are useful to signal firefighters in the event of a fire.

‘Install and test fire extinguishers. There should be an extinguisher in the kitchen and people should know how to use it. It should be tested annually and if one needs to be purchased, the IAFC recommends a multi- or all-purpose fire extinguisher which is listed by an accredited testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory.

‘Plan and practice escaping. Develop at least two different escape routes and practice them. Children are often the innocent victims of fire because they become scared and confused. Make sure they recognize the sound of the smoke detector and that they understand that the detector signals a home fire.

“Remember, ‘Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery,'” Jones said. “It could save your life.”