Contributing Writer

October is National Fire Safety Month. North Royalton Fire Chief Bob Chegan notes that while overall prevention is important, arming yourself with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and having an escape plan can save your life.
Chegan advises residents to have a working smoke detector on every level of your home, outside of every sleeping area and one in every bedroom. Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas. Make sure that the detectors are operable and that the batteries are fresh.

The two kinds of smoke detector technology available today are Photoelectric and Ionization. Some sensors have both technologies included, called dual sensor. In order to tell the difference in detectors, first, look on the back, front, or inside of the unit for the word “photoelectric” or a “P”, or Ionization or an “I”. If the detector has anything noting that it contains radiation, it is an Ionization detector. According to the Northeast Ohio Fire Prevention Association (NEOFPA), “Photoelectric is the sensor of choice. The Photoelectric sensor responds faster to the smoldering fires that cause the most injuries and deaths in residences. It is also less prone to nuisance false alarms from cooking and steam. Dual sensor smoke detectors, because of their Ionization component, are still prone to the nuisance false alarms.”

Seconds count when a fire occurs. According to the National Safety Council, “a small flame can get out of control and turn into a large, uncontrollable fire in less than 30 seconds.” For a safe escape, it is recommended that each family have an escape plan that is thought out and practiced. Map out an escape by noting two different ways out of each room. If you live in a multi-story building, map out as many escape routes as possible. If you live in an apartment or condominium with an elevator, make sure you plan to use the stairs. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year, including your entire family. Practice to escape with your eyes closed, crawling close to the floor, keeping your mouth covered. Teach children the importance of getting out and to not hide if a fire breaks out. Make sure everyone knows how to unlatch windows and make sure all windows can open easily. Make sure all exits remain uncluttered. Make sure your plan includes the meeting place where all family members meet.
For other home safety information, visit the NEOFPA website for their checklist: Fire Safety Checklist