Fire Prevention Week clears the smoke on alarms

For Fire Prevention Week, the Albany Fire Department is preparing for its annual puppet show to teach kids fire safety

Would your smoke detector wake you up if a fire occured in your house overnight?

Georgia's Fire Prevention Week goes from Oct.3 until Oct. 9. This year's theme is "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With," promoting the use and upkeep of smoke alarms.

"The number one way to prevent a deadly home fire is to have a working smoke detector," says State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

"Prior to the mandatory smoke detectors in residences, the firs loss, fire fatalities from fires every year are in the 10,000 to 11,000," says Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.

These days that number has decreased, but Oxendine along with the National Fire Protection Association is encouraging Georgia to participate in Fire Prevention Week. For the occasion, the Albany Fire Department is gearing up for its annual puppet show that demonstrates fire safety to children.

"By them having fun, it also allows us to get our fire safety message out to them. They're having fun but they're also getting a message that hopefully saves a life," says Albany Fire Capt. Tony Denby.

The lessons these kids learn are one everyone can remember, including about having a working smoke detector. Most fatal fires occur while people are sleeping.

"Without a smoke detector to be on alert to alert you to a fire before it gets out of control, then it's a matter of life and death," says Carswell.

Officials say if your smoke alarm does go off, leave the house immediately from the nearest exit. If you have to go through smoke, they say keep low to the ground to avoid the smoke as you head to the exit.

"You need to change the batteries at some kind of occasion whether it's on your birthday, or whether it's when the time changes back and forth, or Halloween," says Carswell.

Oxendine says you need to change the battery twice a year even if you don't think it needs a new one.

"You also need to clean around it. Take the vacuum cleaner, clean it, make sure it's not filled up with any dust," says Oxendine.

Chief James Carswell says by taking these measure, you can prevent the fatalities he sees too often.

"Even today most of the fire deaths that occur in homes, even if they had a smoke detector, it's because they're not working properly or they've taken the batteries out," says Carswell.

He also says cooking fires are the most common incident they see especially during the upcoming holiday season. Carswell says when you walk away from your stove, take something with you like a wooden spoon or pot holder so you remember you were cooking before you walked away.

The U.S. Fire Administration also promotes the following pointers for fire safety among families:
-Plan and practice escape plans several times a year.
-Make sure your whole family knows when and how to call emergency phone numbers.
-Obtain and learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
-Install carbon monoxide detectors.
-Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.

The Albany Fire Department's show to teach kids about fire safety is Oct. 13 at the Albany Civic Center. More than 4,000 Southwest Georgians have already committed to attending.