Smoke detectors save lives.

If you needed convincing of that, an article on the front page of Monday’s edition of the Greeneville Sun should’ve done the trick. As Ken Little reported, a family of seven likely survived a Saturday morning fire that destroyed their Collins Road home thanks to a smoke detector.

Kimberly Brockwell told firefighters the sounding alarm of a smoke detector woke her up around 4 a.m. She found the living room ceiling on fire. Brockwell, her husband, their four children and a nephew made it out safely before firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames.

Jay Wihlen, chief of the United Volunteer Fire Department, left no doubt as to what he believed saved the family. “Had she not had a smoke detector she would have perished in that fire,” Wihlen said of Brockwell. “She only had seconds to get out of the house.”

Another family evacuated their Old Stage Road home early Monday after a fire started in the garage. Again, smoke detectors alerted the residents to the blaze and, Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Shelton said, may have saved their lives.

It’s not a difficult connection to make. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an arm of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 60 percent of home fire deaths occur in properties without working smoke alarms, and nearly 40 percent result from fires where no smoke alarms are present. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms, according to the agency.

Those are odds worth taking into account when weighing how to protect your own life and the lives of loved ones. And it’s an especially easy decision to make given that smoke alarms are available free of charge through a State Fire Marshal’s Office program. Call your local fire department to get one, and to learn more about how to keep yourself and your family safe from a home fire and what to do if you’re confronted with one.

It’s simple: make sure your home has smoke detectors; make sure they’re working; make sure your family knows what to do if you hear their alarm. Those steps could make all the difference when you only have seconds.

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