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Brazos Valley firefighters stress critical nature of checking smoke alarms

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 23:00:17-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — A family lost their loved one in a house fire on Carter Creek Parkway in Bryan last month. Last week, more than 30 people were displaced following the destruction of the Caldwell Motel.

Now, a young family of five have been found dead after their Leon County home went up in smoke Sunday morning.

Many of us live our lives thinking, "that will never happen to my family." But, if we’re not properly prepared, it can.

“Three out of every five deaths that happen in a fire is actually because they didn’t have smoke detectors – that's a national statistic," said Meghan Reed, community outreach specialist for the College Station Fire Department. "...We do have a lot of people in the community who have trouble keeping their smoke detectors up to date, whether it’s the batteries or the installation.”

It’s a misconception that the average person will wake up immediately when a fire starts in their residence, according to Reed. Often fatalities that occur in house fires happen due to smoke inhalation, not burns.

“Thirty or forty years ago, when our furniture was all made of real material, you had probably ten to fifteen minutes to get out of your home from the time that your smoke detector picked up that there was a fire... Now the average is three to five minutes.”

Firefighters stress having working smoke alarms in multiple places throughout the house – especially in or just outside a bedroom.

"A lot of people will mount them right around the kitchen, and then they will get annoyed because they burn the bacon on the stove and the alarm goes off all the time," said Chief Jason Ware of Brazos County VFD, Pct. 3. "You can mount them just outside the kitchen, maybe in the living room area or dining room area.”

And a smoke alarm is no help if it’s not working properly. It’s crucial to replace batteries twice a year – ideally at every daylight savings time change. And batteries should be checked once each month.

"Definitely check them," Ware stressed. "They’ve got a little button on the side to push. When my kiddo was growing up, I would make it a game and push the button on the smoke detector to make it go off, and he enjoyed that a lot.”

Some fire departments and organizations offer free smoke detector home inspections, and some will even change batteries for elderly or low-income residents.

For resources on fire safety and home inspections, visit the American Red Cross website:

Sound The Alarm – Save a Life | Red Cross