Preventing fires on the Garden Isle

LIHUE — This Fire Prevention Week, the Kauai Fire Department wants to make sure everyone has working smoke detectors.

That’s why the department has an installation program, which is funded through federal grants, that ensures kupuna have adequate detectors, said Daryl Date, fire prevention captain.

“If your smoke detector stops working, we definitely want you to replace it,” he said. “(Our) program allowed us to install detectors for the elderly who often have difficulty with installation.”

KFD recommends that a detector be placed inside and outside of every bedroom and on every level of a home.

When it comes to maintaining smoke detectors, Date suggests that batteries be changed every year and the system itself be replaced every 10 years.

The focus of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, hosted by the National Fire Protection Association, is making certain every smoke detector in every house is working. In fact, NFPA is making sure its message of “don’t wait — check the date” is hitting home by making it the theme of prevention week three years in a row.

Data complied by NFPA shows there are several misconceptions about smoke alarms, like knowing when to replace them or knowing how old they are, which puts people at an increased risk of a house fire, according to the NFPA website.

Fire Prevention Week started on Kauai Sunday and ends Saturday.

Firefighters recently handed out fire safety guidelines to the island’s students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Date said.

“We will then follow up in the spring by bringing our fire safety trailer to all public, private and charter schools to reinforce the practices that the students learned from the guides,” he said.

Although KFD ramps up public outreach and education during Fire Prevention Week, the department tries to continue educational programs year-round, Date said.

“It is important to us that we continually educate the community throughout the year,” he said. “Our department conducts fire safety presentations at senior centers and community events. Our fire safety trailer is also deployed to many of these events to reach as many people as possible.”

The department also hosts fire extinguisher training at various businesses around the island, Date said.

It’s also important that families have an escape plan and practice it, he said.

“One of the activities in our firefighter safety guides is to develop an escape plan and have a safe meeting place,” he said. “We strongly encourage students and their families to sit down and develop this plan so they are prepared in case of emergency.”

There are eight fire stations on the Garden Isle: Hanalei, Kaiakea, Kapaa, Lihue, Koloa, Kalaheo, Hanapepe and Waimea.

Info: http://www.nfpa.org/

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