Author: Ashley T. Davis, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
Fire Prevention Safety Week, the longest-running public health and safety observance on record in America, is this week with “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” as its theme. 
Smoke alarms should be replaced if they are ten years old or older. To check the date of manufacture for your smoke alarms, remove them from the ceiling and look at the date on the back of the alarm. If the alarm is less than ten years old, put the alarm back on the ceiling. Otherwise, the alarm should be replaced. 
In keeping with the event, here are some tips and information for improving safety and preparing for the risk of fire.
Use a Smoke Alarm:
- Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying from a fire in half.
Although only 1 in 5 home fires occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., 50 percent of fire fatalities occur during this stretch. Smoke alarms help to wake up potential victims in time to escape from a fire.
Have and Practice an Escape Plan
- Survey results taken by the National Fire Protection Association reveal that most Americans either do not have a fire escape plan or have not practiced it.
- Despite what some may believe, the time to escape from a fire before it becomes life-threatening is often less than six minutes. The only way to know whether an escape plan can be executed in the time available is by practicing it. 
Know the Possible Risks
- Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen, and cooking-related fires account for 400 deaths and 5,080 injuries, along with $853 million in damage annually.
- Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries in the United States. Space heaters account for 33 percent of heater-caused fires and more than 80 percent of home heating deaths.
- One of the leading causes of cooking and heating-related fires was a failure to clean the equipment. Grease build-up on equipment can help ignite and spread fires.
- Electrical fires average 450 deaths and $1.5 billion in property damage per year. The leading causes of electrical fires are electrical distribution or lighting equipment. 
All homes are at risk of a fire. The best way to combat a home fire is to be prepared for one. Smoke alarms are an extremely effective tool for saving lives, and having a plan in the event of a fire is vital to fire survival. Being aware of what fire risks exist in the home is important in preparing for the possibility that one will occur.