Editorial: Alarmed? At home, cast your own ‘vote’ for fire safety

The ballots are in.

To the collective credit of the electorate of Hood River County, the total turnout will likely surpass 75 percent for the Nov. 6 general election.

It is encouraging that more than three-quarters of eligible voters turned in their ballots in this critical election.

This is the time of year another kind of campaign has been on, one that does not involve candidates and ballot measures.

It has to do with pushing a few buttons at home: The Office of State Fire Marshal is urging residents this time of year to test their smoke alarms.

This is annually emphasized when we all “fall back” with our clocks. If, in this time of election you forgot to do so, why not celebrate the end of the election season with this simple task, one simpler and more satisfying than dealing with robo calls and repetitive mailers?

Cast your vote for home fire safety by checking this week to see that your smoke alarms are working.

Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Jim Walker notes that smoke alarm technology has advanced and many now come with features such as long-life batteries. “We encourage residents to test their alarms before changing the battery,” Walker said.

“Ensuring you have working smoke alarms in your home is the single most important step you can take to increase your family’s safety from a home fire,” added Walker.

To check your alarm properly: do the following:

  1. Push the test button to be sure the battery is working.
  2. Vacuum the alarm to remove dust and cobwebs.
  3. Inspect your alarm to determine if it is 10 years old or older. Replace any smoke alarm 10 years old or older, and any alarm that does not operate.

Walker notes that working smoke alarms provide a critical early warning to a fire, allowing you vital minutes to escape, increasing your chances of survival. Additional safety tips:

n Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, in each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

n Hard-wired alarms (those wired directly into home electrical systems) should have battery back-ups.

n Never disconnect or remove batteries from smoke alarms for other uses.

n Use the smoke alarm’s hush feature to silence nuisance alarms.

Finally, make a home escape plan and practice it with family members.

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