Tricounty News

Fire Prevention Week Oct. 3-9

Smoke alarm recommendations

Because statistics show that smoke alarms reduce the chance of dying in a fire by nearly half, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is promoting "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!" as the theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, Oct. 3-9. Grinnell Mutual is joining with NFPA, the 88-year official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week, to educate home owners and business owners about current smoke alarm recommendations. Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire, if they're working properly. But smoke alarm maintenance is up to home owners.

"Many homes may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working," says Alan Clark, Grinnell Mutual's assistant vice president of Special Investigations. Each year, the Special Investigation Unit conducts approximately 20 investigations involving fire fatalities throughout the Midwest. "We want residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. And, if a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced."

According to NFPA's data, many homes have smoke alarms that aren't working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

"A widespread problem we see is that home owners disconnect or remove the battery rather than replacing it when their smoke detector starts chirping," says Clark.

"Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes. Fire Prevention Week provides an excellent opportunity to re-educate people about smoke alarms, new technologies and expanded options for installation and maintenance," says Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education. "Ultimately, we want this year's campaign to serve as a call to action for households nationwide to inspect their homes to ensure that their families have the full smoke alarm protection that's recommended."

Home owners can make sure their smoke alarms are maintained and working properly with these tips from Grinnell Mutual:

* Test smoke alarms at least once a month by pushing the test button and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.

* If an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

* Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they're 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

* Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

* Interconnect hard-wired smoke alarms so if one sounds, all will sound. Contact a certified electrician or purchase wireless systems that can you can install yourself.

Grinnell Mutual also recommends taking general safety precautions to protect your home:

* Take caution while cooking. Several fires begin when people leave the kitchen while they are cooking.

* Use carbon monoxide detectors.

* Install a residential sprinkler system in all new construction.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in your community, contact your local fire department. To learn more about fire prevention, visit NFPA's website at, or Grinnell Mutual's website at

About Grinnell Mutual

Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, with headquarters in Grinnell, Iowa, has been in business since 1909, providing reinsurance, property and casualty insurance products for home owners, farm owners and business owners through nearly 1,600 independent agents in 11 Midwestern states. The company is the largest primary reinsurer of farm mutual companies in North America. In keeping with the farm mutual industry's philosophy of protecting communities, Grinnell Mutual's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) regularly serves as fire prevention and safety speakers to local community groups.