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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

No Smoke Alarm = Probable Death

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

Hard. But better to be direct.

Not having a working smoke alarm raises the risk of dying in a fire to almost 100%. Most people think they have 5 minutes to get out - not true. In most cases, it is 60 seconds or less.

Think about it. You wake up from a deep sleep. Ten seconds pass as you get orientated, yelling for everyone to get out. Where are the kids? Gawd, we have to get the kids. By this time, you are at 50 seconds.

No kids, and how do you get out? No plan. The last 10 seconds are spent trying to get out, and the fire in Hamilton is so sad; four people, including two kids, did not make it out.

Why? No working smoke alarm could have significantly improved their chances.

2/3 of fire deaths occur in homes with missing or non-functioning smoke alarms

Install Smoke Alarms In:

  • Every bedroom

  • Outside each sleeping area

  • On every level of your home, including the basement

  • On levels without bedrooms: install in the living room, den, or family room.

  • Install near stairways leading to upper levels

  • Install smoke alarms 10 feet from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms

  • Use interconnected smoke alarms for additional safety and early warning.

  • Low-pitch sound and vibration smoke alarms are available for those who are hard of hearing.

  • Do not install near windows, doors, or ducts.

  • Never paint smoke alarms.

Remember to:

  • Test smoke alarms monthly

  • Change smoke alarm batteries yearly

  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years

And Have a Plan

A fire plan does not have to be complicated. A simple plan that outlines who is going to get the kids and others and how you are going to get out. And practice makes perfect. What is so difficult about practicing the plan once per month? One or two minutes could save your and your family’s life.

I am not attempting to be melodramatic, but last year there were 9,166 house fires in Canada, resulting in 117 deaths. That is not just a statistic; that is someone’s mother, father, grandparents, friend, or child.

Some will probably say, “Smoke Detectors don’t save lives.” In some instances, that may be true, and if you have an old-style ionization type, that statement could be true. But those are from a long time ago. The moral of the story is if there is no smoke detector, please put one up. If a smoke detector is about ten years old, please install new ones.

For less than $110, you can get a package of 6 - one for each room of the house. What could be better than that?

Bottom Line

Too many devastating stories as a result of preventable deaths from house fires. To improve your margin for safety, plan, organize and implement.

  • Plan for a fire escape

  • Organize and install new battery-operated photoelectric smoke detectors - the best is to have a new one in each room of the house.

  • Practice your fire escape at least once per month and touch the button on the smoke detectors to check for the working beep.

As we move into the New Year, Happy New Year from Sustainable Circular Economy, a boutique firm in Vancouver that works with businesses and First Nations to do the world a world of good through a circular economy lens, focusing on solutions that are good for the people, the planet and are sustainable. Health and safety is just one component, but a critical one.

Best wishes…

Vancouver, Canada


Wayne Drury is CEO of Sustainable Circular Economy, a boutique firm in Vancouver, Canada, that helps businesses and First Nation communities to arrive at environmental solutions that are good for the people, the planet and are sustainable based upon a circular economy lens of reuse, repurpose, and recycle.

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