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As the old saying goes, "where there’s smoke, there’s fire." In the event of a house fire, smoke is often the first warning sign. By the time you see flames, it might be too late to get to safety. That’s why working smoke detectors are perhaps the single most important safety device you can have in your home.

A fatal house fire near Lansing, Michigan, last month is a horrific reminder that the inexpensive and unobtrusive smoke detector can save lives. An early morning fire tore through a Delta Township home, trapping 60-year-old Bill Waldon Jr. in the basement. Authorities estimate that the fire burned for about one hour before the first call to 911. The home did not have any smoke detectors.

Time is critical to surviving a house fire. The more time you have to react, the more likely you are to make it out alive. That’s where smoke detectors come in. They provide an early warning, allowing you to avoid asphyxiating smoke and lung-searing toxic gases. You should have at least one smoke detector on each floor of your house, with special attention to bedroom areas. The vast majority of smoke detectors run on batteries, which should be replaced twice per year.

House fires are terrifying and dangerous, but you can increase your odds of survival by installing smoke detectors in your home. These low-cost lifesavers are an indispensable tool that can keep you and your family safe and healthy.

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