Firefighters sound the alarm over smoke detector testing

Published On: Aug 17 2014 03:06:28 PM HST   Updated On: Aug 18 2014 06:55:08 AM HST

Firefighters are sounding the alarm, to remind residents to check their smoke detectors before they are needed in an emergency.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

Many times firefighters battle fires that break out in homes full of people. The flames can start from careless cooking, or an unattended candle -- sometimes with deadly results.

"It is a matter of a minute or two from when a fire starts to where it starts producing enough gas and smoke that a person sleeping would not be able to become alert," said Batt. Chief Terry Seelig, with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Smoke alarms can give residents enough warning to get out before the flames and smoke spread too far, but firefighters have found many times there is no alarm.

"Probably 70-80 percent of homes have smoke alarms, but of those -- only about 70-80 percent have ones that are working," added Seelig.
All new homes are required to have fire alarms, but homeowners aren't required to check to make sure the alarms still work over the years.
Some elderly residents may not even hear a sounding alarm and children may sleep right through it.

Being alerted to a fire is only part of a life-saving plan, so is knowing what to do when the alarm sounds.
"You have to have a fire escape plan. Those people inside the home have to know what to do to get out safely and account for everybody," said Seelig.

Volunteer artists from Hawaii's public and private schools are helping to spread that message.

Kaycie Baltunado not only helped her daughter Railey paint Sacred Heart's fire safety mural, she's also drew up family plans so her kids know what to do in a fire.

"My children are 6 and under and the first thing when something happens is: they go and look for me. So the important thing is they go straight out the door instead of looking for me," said Baltunado.

Other parents now plan to make up a family plan after learning about fire hazards, so everyone will know what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.

"We don't have a plan just yet, we just have the fire detectors in the house. But we know to get out -- that's the main thing," said Honolulu resident Nik Chase.

The student murals will be displayed at fire stations around Oahu for fire prevention week Oct. 5-11.

For homes with smoke alarms, it is recommended they are tested every month.


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