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Newton Fire Service reminds citizens smoke alarms save lives

COVINGTON -- Last week's tragic events in Rockdale County which resulted in the deaths of four children in a fire where the residence had no working smoke alarms brings to mind once more the importance of planning ahead for fire safety.

"The Newton County Fire Service had no fire fatalities in 2012 and we would like to keep that record going strong," said Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling, fire safety educator for NCFS. "Help us do that by being responsible for your own safety by having working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and by having a home escape plan in case your family becomes a victim of a house fire."

Working smoke alarms are the No. 1 life-saving tool when fire erupts. Taylor offers the following tips on making sure that smoke alarms are optimally placed within the home and have the best chance of alerting a family:

-- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound.

-- An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For best protection, both types of alarms or a combination alarm should be installed.

-- Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.

-- Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer's instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer's instructions for testing and maintenance.

-- Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

-- Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly.

-- Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

-- Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must be installed by a qualified electrician.

-- If cooking fumes or steam set off nuisance alarms, replace the alarm with an alarm that has a "hush" button. Such a button will reduce the alarm's sensitivity for a short period of time.

-- An ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.

-- Smoke alarms that include a recordable voice announcement in addition to the usual alarm sound may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice.

-- Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These devices use strobe lights. Vibration devices can be added to these alarms.