Scary question, isn’t it? But it’s one I faced this past weekend when I did my weekly Operation End Injury action. Here’s the only working smoke alarm in my house:
See the circuits inside? Those were phased out years ago, suggesting that this is a very old smoke alarm. I did a little research, and my best guess is that this smoke detector was sold in 1977 or 1978. I was born in 1981. WOW.
As someone who worries about safety more than the average citizen, I was shocked to see that I was so unprotected. I know fires happen all the time, and even “castles” can burn. At least our smoke detector was in a recommended place—in the hallway right outside the bedrooms. But I wondered what would have happened if we had a fire in one of our other rooms, like the kitchen or living room, where we have a wood-burning fireplace that we use regularly? Would the smoke detector have alerted us in time to get out of the house?
Needless to say, we took action to fix this problem. We started by figuring how many new detectors we needed. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, and clearly ours was much, much older than that, so we needed one for the kitchen, one near the bedrooms, and one in the basement. We also don’t have a carbon monoxide detector—that went on the list too.
Like most families, we tend to organize our to-do list by what’s most urgent. To some, lack of adequate fire protection may not seem like a critical issue, but in all this cold weather, we’re using our fireplace pretty frequently, making fire safety an urgent problem for my household. Fortunately my wife was on board with getting this issue fixed right away, so we headed over to our local hardware store to get the detectors we needed.
Thank goodness this week’s action was two weeks long—despite my best intentions, I needed the extra time to get the detectors bought and installed. But now, when I pass the new alarm in the hallway or see the detector in my kitchen, I feel a sense of relief. With full fire protection on both levels of my home, I can put my feet up and enjoy our fireplace with a little more peace of mind.
This post was submitted by reader Jason, who has been participating in Operation End Injury. Looking for more information about protecting your family from fire? Check out this link.