Smoke Detectors Save Lives


It happens all too often: a burning candle or food left on the stove sparks a fire, destroying your possessions, mementos and your home.

October 5-11 is Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme is: Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives, Test Yours Every Month.

The statistics are startling: about two-thirds of deaths in house fires were in structures that didn't have a smoke detector or had one that wasn't working.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, followed by heating equipment. Having working smoke alarms cuts the risk of dying in reported home fires by half.

Both the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration recommend that hard wired, dual sensor smoke detectors be installed in every dwelling. There should be one placed in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas and on every floor of a home. Battery powered smoke alarms are considered a good alternative.

Cost should not be a deterrent; battery detectors sell for as little as $6 – those with more features can run $30 or more. Some fire departments offer low-cost or free smoke detectors for families with financial hardships.

There are a few important things to remember:

  • Batteries should be replaced once a year (normally the Sunday that Daylight Saving Time ends)
  • The average smoke detector has a lifespan of eight to ten years
  • Smoke detectors should be checked monthly to make sure they are working properly
  • You may qualify for homeowners or renters insurance discounts if you have a working smoke detector

How much do you know about home fires and smoke detectors? Take the National Fire Prevention Week Quiz.

Is your home thoroughly protected from fire? Maybe you qualify for discounts for having fire suppression equipment. Find out by contacting a California Casualty advisor and get a policy review at 1.800.800.9410.

Much of the information for this article came from the NFPA's Fire Prevention Week website.

Other sources for this article:

U.S. Fire Administration

National Fire Prevention Association

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or

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