Smoke Detectors Save Lives

The following is the first in a series about Fire Safety. The information has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Freeholder H. James Polos, Chairman of the Public Safety and Health Committee, and Michael Gallagher, County Fire Marshal.

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — Since the beginning of this year, Middlesex County has mourned the fire-related deaths of 11 County residents.

These fires gave no advanced warning, did not discriminate on age, race, color or creed. Everyone is vulnerable to the effects and consequences of fire.

The entire community mourns when a family suffers tragic loss due to a fire. The sad truth is that any household in any community can fall victim to a fire.

What is most alarming is that so many fire-related deaths are preventable. There are things that we as individuals, families and communities can do to prevent fires and prepare for those that do happen.

Over the course of this series, you will be provided with safety tips that can prevent fires from happening, and could ultimately save lives.


Smoke detectors save lives. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms should be on everyone’s fire-prevention list. Smoke alarms are designed to provide a first alert and wake you up if a fire starts while you are sleeping. You are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you do not have an operational smoke alarm to alert you to the danger of fire. The alarms give you and your family time to escape.

Smoke detectors are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Your home should have a minimum of one smoke alarm per floor, including the basement. It is recommended that every bedroom be equipped with a smoke detector.

Since smoke rises, ensure that all detectors are always placed on ceilings or high on walls. Always refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions or contact your local Fire Prevention Bureau if you have questions.

Battery-operated alarms should be tested at least once a month to ensure their operability. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm at least once a year. It is recommended that each spring or fall when we change the clocks, you install a new battery. If an alarm “chirps” at anytime, immediately change the battery.

Smoke detectors have a life expectancy of 10 years. After 10 years, your smoke detector has worked consecutively for over 87,000 hours. No other appliance in your home works continually for this duration. Every 10 years, change your smoke detectors.

It is recommended that if you move, you change all smoke detectors in your new home unless you are completely certain they have not exhausted their life expectancy.

If a smoke detector alarm sounds during cooking, never dislodge the battery. Instead, open the doors and windows.

Remember, smoke detectors save lives.

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