This Saturday's return of daylight-savings time is usually a time for fire officials to remind people to change the batteries in their CO and smoke detectors. However, after several house fires both here in Wood County and around the state, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office said people should not wait for Saturday's time change to either install the detectors or put new batteries into existing ones.
State Fire Marshal's Office investigator Jason Baltic said his office is concerned because of the recent number of house fires that have resulted in death and injuries. Two recent fatal fires in different parts of the state were responsible for two deaths. Neither dwelling - one in Charles Town and one in Boone County - had a working smoke detector.
It brought the number of deaths in the state to 13 in 2013.
"Smoke detectors are a big problem around here," Baltic said in published reports. "I don't know why people don't put them in their houses. They're maybe $10. It doesn't make any sense."
Our area is no stranger to house fires. We have had several in recent weeks, the latest this past Sunday when two elderly women and a pet cat were rescued from a south Parkersburg home after a fire broke out in the kitchen area. These women - a mother and her daughter - were treated at the scene by members of the St. Joseph Ambulance Service. Fortunately, they did have working smoke detectors in their home, which may have saved their lives.
Winter is typically the time when most house fires occur. Unfortunately, too many homes do not have working smoke detectors. By the time residents realize there is a fire, it may be too late for them to safely escape. A smoke detector may provide the needed time to escape from this type of situation.
"Everybody thinks it won't happen to me, but at any time anything can happen to anybody," Baltic said. "The majority of fatal fires are accidental fires, and a lot of them are children."
There is no excuse for any homeowner not to have a working smoke detector or a CO detector in the house - and more than one is preferable. They are inexpensive, and in many instances can be obtained for free.
If you don't have a smoke detector, please get one. It may save you and your loved ones from a tragedy.