By Tamas Mondovics

That smoke alarms save lives there is little doubt. Unfortunately, the first line of fire prevention is to actually have functioning alarms installed within the home or business.

According to recent reports, working alarms cut the risk of fatal home fires in half. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue noted that 85 percent of all fire deaths occur in the home, and the majority happen at night when most people are sleeping.

HCFR officials said that when smoke alarms fail to sound, it’s usually because they have missing, dead, or disconnected batteries. Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month.

To draw attention on importance on smoke alarms Hillsborough County Fire Rescue team, led by Chief Dennis Jones, canvassed several neighborhoods earlier this month to install free smoke alarms in homes that need them.

The effort, under this year’s theme “Don’t Wait, Check the Expiration Date,” was in conjunction with the 2016 Fire Prevention Week in mid October, and reminded residents that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

“Here in Hillsborough County we have an amazing partnership with local agencies such as the American red Cross and the Children’s Board, to work together on this project,” HCFR Fire Marshall Tammy Zurla said, adding that the team assisted residents with checking the expiration date as well as replace them as needed.

“First and foremost is to have the smoke alarms, to maintain them, to check the dates to make sure they are within the ten year period, to check and replace the batteries,” Zurla said. “Residents should make sure that every room used for sleeping in the home has a working smoke alarm.”

To find out how old a smoke alarm is, check the manufacture date on the back of the alarm, add 10 years to that date, and that’s the year it needs to be replaced.

The recent neighborhood sweep was just one of a number of fire prevention efforts and were part of a full schedule of events planned during Fire Prevention Week.  

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