Take a minute or two to make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries.

And if you don’t have smoke detectors, buy them. They can save your life in event of a fire by providing precious seconds of early warning.

Sadly, many fire deaths are preventable.

More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 25,000 are injured. Many of those who died in fires nationwide might be alive today if they only had the information they needed to prevent a disaster.

Firefighters are also at risk of injury along with homeowners.

Those statistics are good reason to take a simple precaution that can increase your odds of surviving a fire.

According to federal fire statistics compiled by the U. S. Fire Administration Quick Response Program, over 80 percent of all fire deaths happen in the home.

Having a working smoke alarm more than doubles one’s chances of surviving a fire, federal officials say.

Nearly half the residential fires and three-fifths of residential fire fatalities happen in homes with no smoke alarms.

Federal officials urge you to place a smoke alarm on each level of your home and in all outside bedrooms.

Change the batteries twice a year – perhaps when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

Teach your youngsters what the alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it sound-- leave the building immediately by crawling under the smoke.

If cooking sets off the alarm, do not disable it. Turn on the range fan, open a window or wave a towel near the alarm.

Leave the batteries in the smoke alarm. Don’t take them out to put in other appliances. And consider buying a lithium smoke alarm which will operate for 10 years and is sealed so that it can’t be opened.

Smoke detectors wear out over time, Replace yours if it is 10 years old or more.

Along a related line, the American Red Cross offers 10-year smoke alarms, educational materials and volunteers to work with various organizations. For more information visit redcross.org/homefires or call the North Mississippi chapter of the American Red Cross at 662-842-6101.

Perform a death-defying act. Buy a smoke detector and use it. The life you save may be your own, or that of a loved one.

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