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Smoke Detectors and Smoke Alarms Save Lives–but Too Many People Ignore Them

In our last blog post, we wrote about five family members who died of smoke inhalation during a house fire in Connecticut. The fire raged so quickly through the wooden house that investigators still do not know if there were smoke alarms in the house that alerted the occupants.

But consider this: if these fire investigators think that people could have died in a fire even though there might have been smoke detectors in the house, how can anyone think that they could escape a fire when they do NOT have working smoke alarms in their house? Smoke inhalation kills people so quickly that even one or two breaths of air contaminated with smoke and carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide can render a person unconscious, and cause them to die even if they are rescued before suffering any third degree burns.

Here is just one recent example of such a situation: A woman died from smoke inhalation in Washougal, Washington in large part because the smoke detector in her apartment had been disconnected. The 28-year-old woman’s apartment caught fire not while she was asleep, but right in the middle of the day! And the fire was not very big–it was contained to an upper-floor apartment and did not spread to the lower floor, and was extinguished within a few minutes. But the woman was found unconscious in a bedroom, and there were no other occupants in the apartment. The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office said a few days later that there was not a working smoke detector in the apartment–it had been disconnected.

“It’s tragic, that is for certain,” said the property manager. “We’ve done our best to reassure the other residents that there are no structural problems in the building. It appears that this was an anomaly. As far as we know, there are no electrical, structural or mechanical problems with the unit that would be of concern to the other residents.” In other words, this fire might have started from something as simple as a pot or pan left on the hot stove and then forgotten.

If this tragic story does not convince you to install smoke detectors near the kitchen and the bedrooms of your home, and also to check the batteries and the working status of these smoke alarms regularly, then you are simply risking your life and the lives of others who come through there.

Lastly, if you or someone you know does suffer a smoke inhalation injury or severe burns, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a solid legal case.