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Each year almost 3,000 people die in household fires, which is evidence of the importance of home fire safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fires are the second leading cause of unintentional death in the home. Wherever they strike, fires have the potential to be deadly. Even though we tend to see the property damage that is the result of a fire, it is rarely the fire itself that causes the injury or damage to people. Rather, it is the smoke from the fire that causes health problems and even death. This is why smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide) detectors are so important.
It goes without saying that fires can also give rise to lawsuits, both for injuries and for property damage. In the past several years Cohen & Cohen, P.C. has represented many victims who suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of a fire. In cases where a death has occurred, we fight for the rights of the victim’s family.
Whether we are talking about your own home, or about a rental property, a few basic measures can help create a safer environment and insulate you from liability. The following includes but is not limited to, ways to create home fire safety for you and your family:
Purchase a lot of smoke detectors with alarms loud enough to wake your entire family.
Make sure your smoke detectors have a manufacturer’s warranty of at least five years.
The smoke detectors should have malfunction alarms that beep or chirp when the batteries are running low.
Properly install the smoke detectors. The preferred option is to have it “hard wired” so that if the batteries fail, the smoke detectors will still work. For true home fire safety, never install hard wired units without putting in the batteries for backup.
Make sure you have smoke detectors installed on every level of your home, including the basement. Alarms should be outside of every sleeping area, and in rooms where there is an increased chance of a fire (i.e., laundry room, furnace room, kitchen, etc.)
Check the batteries in every detector. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that every household set a date twice a year, commonly daylight savings, to change the smoke detector battery.
Make sure your smoke alarms are optimally installed by mounting the smoke detectors high on walls or on ceilings to insure that as smoke rises the detector will sound. Smoke detectors should be installed away from windows, doors, or air ducts that can interfere with their operation.
The home fire safety steps above plus many others, are important to keep your family healthy, and your possessions and your home intact.
It only takes one small spark to start a deadly fire. Home fire safety rules are fairly basic and can save you a lot of heartache and hassles in the long run. By taking just a few minutes to check the batteries and setup of your smoke alarms, you can take a major step toward ensuring your family’s safety. As well, you will be taking steps that can help to protect your wallet in the case of a lawsuit.
Poorly installed or maintained smoke detectors can burn you in more than one way.
Cohen & Cohen, P.C., has represented a number of clients whose lives have been tragically changed by catastrophic fires. One of our clients, Donald Peterson, lost three of his family members in a house fire in 2001.
Cohen & Cohen, P.C., believes that more information on home fire safety is important and we encourage you to visit one or more of the following sites: