Nanaimo falls below the provincial average for homes with working smoke alarms, which can provide early warning and save lives in the event of a fire. File photo

Working smoke alarms found in fewer than one-third of residential fires in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Fire Rescue urges residents to install smoke alarms in homes

Working smoke alarms save lives, but a high percentage of Nanaimo homes don’t have one.

According to Nanaimo Fire Rescue, firefighters recently responded to residential fires where there were no smoke alarms installed and in 2018 fire crews found only 28 per cent of fires in homes had a working smoke alarms – a worrying trend for Nanaimo, which statistically has been below the provincial average for homes with smoke alarms.

On average residents have less than three minutes to safely escape a residential fire, but working smoke alarms can provide early warning of a fire by rousing occupants from sleep and giving valuable extra seconds to escape a fire. Research has shown people have a 73 per cent greater chance of dying in a fire in a building without smoke alarms.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue recommends at least one smoke alarm per floor and outside each sleep area.

This fall the fire department will visit mobile home parks and go door-to-door to check and install smoke alarms where needed. Firefighters might also check the condition of a smoke alarm if they are at a home they were called to for another emergency, such as a medical aid.

“Smoke alarms are the early indicators, the warning device, to let the occupants in a home know that there is a potential fire,” said Karen Fry, Nanaimo fire chief, in a press release. “Nanaimo Fire Rescue responds to a number of house fires each year that could have been prevented if smoke alarms were installed. Please ensure your home has working smoke alarms. Don’t rely on outdated smoke alarms to keep your family safe.”

Smoke alarm operation should be checked once a month, batteries should be changed every six months and the devices themselves should be replaced every 10 years.

Should a house fire break out, residents are advised to close doors when exiting to help prevent the fire from spreading and causing more damage.

RELATED: Nanaimo Fire Rescue will come knocking for Fire Prevention Week

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