Fire department encourages people to check their smoke detectors

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Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) —

“Change your clocks, change your batteries. Keep that same messaging we’ve had for years,” Randy Smith, Champaign Fire Department, said.

That’s the message from one fire department. They say to always make sure you have a working smoke alarm, because it could save your life.

A family is in serious condition after a fire in Champaign Thursday. The department said only one smoke alarm sounded at the time of the fire, so they are warning people to check their fire alarms.

“These provide us those extra seconds we need to get out of that home safely,” Smith said.

Those extra seconds are crucial during a house fire. The Champaign Fire Department encourages everyone to install smoke detectors in their home, but one is not enough.

“In that bedroom, in case that door’s closed, and that common corridor or hallway outside the bedroom that way it protects that egress,” Smith said.

Randy Smith with the Champaign Fire Department also says make sure there’s one in each bedroom and one on each floor. He says this can help too when people are sleeping.

“Just remember we work against smoke rising. So we’ve got to keep them in multiple places to help people get out in a timely fashion,” Smith said.

For one Champaign woman, hearing that people still don’t have a smoke alarm hits home for her.

“In 2016 we lost our boy to a fire here, locally in town. And since then, we’ve been kind of on a mission to help get smoke alarms in all the homes that don’t have them here in town,” Joy Sheehan said.

She teamed up with the Champaign Fire Department to help install smoke detectors in people’s homes, but Covid put a stop to her plans.

“There’s really no reason that a home should go without having one,” Sheehan said.

After hearing about the Thursday fire, she is trying to get smoke detectors in homes.

“There’s no reason. The smoke alarms are there. We can get it installed. Let’s make it happen,” Sheehan said.

She said she has plenty of smoke alarms from donations and encourages people to reach out to her if they need one.

“Our way of bringing good out of devastation and feeling like we’re helping and contributing back to the community,” Sheehan said.

She says its not worth losing a life.

“The devastation of a life because of just a smoke alarm. I said it already, its such a small price to pay for the life,” Sheehan said.

The fire department and Sheehan used to work together to install the detectors, but Covid made it difficult to go into homes. They hope to figure something out for the future. If you need help installing or need an alarm, they encourage you reach out to them at 217-403-7200.

The fire department encourages families to have evacuation plans. They said go over these plans and practice them. They said a good time to remember to do this is when you change your clocks and smoke alarm batteries. The plan should have two ways to get out of every room in the house and a meeting place for when you get out.

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