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Deaths prompt plea to install detectors

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

In the wake of two fire-related deaths early this week, the West Virginia Fire Marshal's Office had a message for the public. If you don't have smoke detectors in your home, get them now.

Doing so could save your life if a fire occurred in your home.

The warning came after a man was killed Sunday at his Boone County home and a woman died Monday as the result of a fire in her house near Charles Town. Neither home had a smoke detector, according to Fire Marshal's Office investigator Jason Baltic. "I don't know why people don't put them in their houses. They're maybe $10. It doesn't make any sense," Baltic told the Charleston Daily Mail.

He's correct. It doesn't.

Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in the United States from 2005 to 2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half, the association reports.

Fire prevention officials recommend one smoke detector for each level of a house as well as an additional detector in each sleeping area. The one-per-bedroom, one-per-level ratio is important in order to provide the earliest detection, they say.

Of course, it's vital to remember that a smoke detector is of no value if it isn't working. The NFPA notes that when smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead. Officials say detectors require monthly testing, routine dusting and new batteries at least twice a year.

Take an important step in protecting your life and the lives of your loved ones by having smoke detectors in your home and making sure they are working.

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