Can't stay quiet about Fire Prevention Week

Hear a chirp, make a change!

Words to live by, literally, as smoke detectors serve as residents’ first warning of fire in the home. Keeping the devices’ batteries fresh will help keep inhabitants safe.

This is Fire Prevention Week, a time when fire departments across the country unite around a common message to remind people of the importance of being vigilant against fire’s deadly potential.

The theme for 2021 is “Learning the Sounds of Fire Safety,” including, of course, the prompt to switch out the battery. Another tag line is “Hear a Beep, Get on Your Feet,” urging people not to take alarm signals lightly.

The prevalence of cellphones, tablets and other devices mean our ears are subjected to increasing competition, which we may be tempted to tune out. But smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should always command our auditory attention. How can we distinguish between the two? Here are some helpful guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association:

Smoke alarms

• A continued set of three loud beeps — beep, beep, beep — means smoke or fire. Get out, call 9-1-1, and stay out.

• A single “chirp” every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.

• Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and the unit must be replaced. All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors

• A continuous set of four loud beeps — beep, beep, beep, beep — means carbon monoxide is present in your home. Go outside, call 9-1-1 and stay out.

• A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be replaced.

• CO alarms also have “end of life” sounds that vary by manufacturer. This means it’s time to get a new CO alarm.

The NFPA also advises that people make sure their smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of everyone in the home, including those with sensory or physical disabilities. Here are some tips:

• Install a bedside alert device that responds to the sound of the smoke and CO alarms. Use of a low frequency alarm can also wake a sleeping person with mild to severe hearing loss.

• Sleep with your mobility device, glasses and phone close to your bed.

• Keep pathways like hallways lit with night lights and free from clutter to make sure everyone can get out safely.

A great way to get the entire family on board with sound fire safety practices is by attending the annual Hinsdale Fire & Police Open House this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A story on Page 7 of this issue fills in a lot of the details on all the ways the department works to make fire safety fun and memorable.

So keep those ears open and stay safe.