Four Lives Saved in Roanoke, VA home fire thanks to two kids’ prompt response to sounding smoke alarms

The live-saving value of working smoke alarms – and the know-how to respond to them – was reinforced last Wednesday when two children were able to get themselves and two adults out of a home fire upon hearing the smoke alarms sound.

“In this case, the kids knew what to do. They got out, they called 911, they gave us all the information. It was phenomenal,” said David Hoback, fire chief of Roanoke’s Department of Fire-EMS, who was quoted in a local news story covering the incident. According to WSLS 10 News, the two children got out safely, while the adults suffered life-threatening injuries.

“I know this family didn’t go to bed last night thinking they were going to have a fire at 5:30 this morning. But if you practice and have active working smoke detectors it will save lives,” said Hoback.

He’s right. Having working smoke alarms and knowing what to do when they sound can make the difference between a safe escape from fire and tragedy.

Here are NFPA guidelines for properly installing, testing, and maintaining smoke alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. 
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly. Press the test button to make sure each alarm is working.
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries when the alarm begins to chirp, signaling that the batteries are running low. If the alarm continues to chirp or sound, it’s time to replace the alarm.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are more than10 years old. You can determine the age of a smoke alarm by its date of manufacture, which is located on the back of the alarm.
  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected, if possible, so that when one alarm sounds, they all do. 

Also, when it comes to home escape planning, make sure to include all members of your household in developing the plan and practicing it regularly, at least twice a year. Get more information on how to develop and practice a home escape plan.

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Matt Levin
Matthew Levin
NFPA Public Affairs Intern

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