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Red Cross urges residents to prepare for fires

Are the batteries good in your smoke detectors? Does the fire extinguisher have a charge?

If you don’t know the answer to either question, take the opportunity during national fire prevention week to find out, said Merrill Davis, executive director of the Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The week of Oct. 3-9 is observed throughout the nation as an opportune time to make sure one’s home is protected, Davis said.

“The largest percentage of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms that don’t work,” Davis said. “Smoke alarms provide a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives.”

While Covington County has been fortunate to have not suffered any fire-related deaths, the county has seen its fair share of house fires – many of which where smoke detectors played a large role in “getting out in time.”

Davis said last year, the Covington County Red Cross responded to 45 fire-related cases and assisted 141 individuals.

“People who do not have smoke alarms in their home should have them installed, and those with smoke alarms should make sure they have been properly maintained and updated,” Davis said.

He said smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, as well as inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas of the home.

“People should test their smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button, and replace alarm batteries at least once a year,” he said.

Other smoke alarm safety recommendations include:

• Installing a new smoke alarm battery immediately if an alarm chirps, which is a warning that the battery is low.

• Teaching children what the smoke alarm sounds like, and what they should do when they hear it.

• Keeping the alarm clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with the alarm’s operation. Do not paint over the smoke alarm.

• Moving the alarm farther away from the kitchen or bathroom if the device is sounding nuisance alarms. Never disable a smoke alarm.

The Turman home is one of the homes destroyed by fire this year. This week is fire prevention month and the Red Cross is stressing the importance of taking steps to protect homes. | File photo