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The importance of having working smoke detectors

ST. LOUIS - Every day, at least seven people die in house fires in the US. First responders and the American Red Cross want that number dropped to zero. Both agencies stress the importance of working smoke detectors.

“Three out of five related deaths occur where there was no working smoke alarm.  One over 2,100 deaths annually related to fires in the home,” said Captain Leon Whitner of St. Louis Fire Department.  

The American Red Cross has a set goal: to reduce fire related deaths and injuries by 25 percent by 2020.  Fire relief volunteers are busy responding to on average, just here in the St. Louis community, about three fires every night.

Firefighters and Red Cross are in the community together installing free smoke alarms a couple times a year while checking installed alarms if a resident has questions.

“Here in the St. Louis area, we've been able to document where we've installed smoke alarms and where seven family members have been saved because they had a working smoke alarm.  They had an evacuation plan," said Cindy Erickson, CEO of American Red Cross Eastern Missouri.

Erickson reminds us how important it is to know where your home exists are. The Red Cross provides homeowners with a drawn-up escape plan to share with the family.

“On average, you have less than two minutes to get out of your home," said Erickson.

Fire associations around the country are using the safety slogan ‘Every Second Counts’. Witner said you should always know two ways out of every room in your home.  If it’s a second-floor room, the fire department can offer minimal assistance.

If you need a smoke alarm or help installing one call your local fire dept. The fire department installs, free of charge, long life smoke alarms with lithium power cells, which are designed to last a maximum of 10 years without battery changes.

In addition, the St. Louis fire department offers free home fire safety surveys and assistance with designing home fire escape plans.

To request a smoke detector for a residential home or apartment, St. Louis City residents can call the STLFD smoke detector hotline at 314-533-3406.