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Know the sounds of fire safety

The National Fire Protection Association is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign — “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.”

For those who are not firefighters and have never been through a fire or a carbon monoxide emergency, it may seem counterintuitive. When we think of a fire, many of us think of the heat we may feel as we’re escaping, the smell of the smoke, and maybe the fire or smoke we may see on our way out of the door. We may even think of darkness, if the fire happens in the middle of the night, and we won’t be able to see anything.

Hearing, however, may not be first on our list of senses we think we will employ during an emergency. However, for many people, that is the first way they are alerted to a fire. Knowing what to do when an alarm sounds will keep you and your family safe. Whether it’s alerting you to a fire or carbon monoxide emergency, or it’s telling you its battery is getting low, you must take action.

Key messages around this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign include the following regarding sounds your alarms may be telling you:

Smoke alarms

  • A continued set of three loud beeps — beep, beep, beep — means smoke or fire. Get out, call 911, and stay out.
  • A single “chirp” every 30 to 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.
  • All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.
  • 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.

Carbon monoxide alarms

  • A continuous set of four loud beeps — beep, beep, beep, beep — means carbon monoxide is present in your home. Go outside, call 911, and stay out.
  • A single chirp every 30 to 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be replaced.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms also have “end of life” sounds that vary by manufacturer. This means it’s time to get a new carbon monoxide alarm.
  • 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.
  • There are smoke alarms and alert devices that alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  These devices include strobe lights that flash to alert people when the smoke alarm sounds.  Pillow or bed shakers designed to work with your smoke alarm also can be purchased and installed.