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Oklahoma State University
Department of Wellness

America's HEALTHIEST Campus®

Stillwater Family Saved by Smoke Alarm

Potholder on fire in ovenNovember 29, 2017 - Stillwater, OK

The most recent smoke alarm “save” attributed to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities was recently reported in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Smoke alarms and an alert device were installed in the home of an older couple with funding from a previous AFG grant. Both older adults have mobility disabilities, which makes the importance of early warning to a fire even more critical for them. She uses a walker and he is unable to self-transfer from the hospital bed in the living room to a wheelchair.

The consumer had just put a meatloaf in the oven to bake as her therapist arrived for her weekly appointment. As she settled down on the treatment table one of the new smoke alarms began alerting. At first the consumer, her husband, and the therapist chuckled and wondered how a fire could have begun in the kitchen and a smoke alarm detect it so quickly? She had just put the dinner in the oven. Entering the kitchen, the therapist found a potholder on the oven door that had been caught inside and was touching the heating element, and now was on fire. The fire was doused while still small. There were no injuries and no one called 9-1-1. The couple was shocked that the fire happened so quickly and attests that the smoke alarms “literally saved our lives.” The realization that “every second counts” has a new meaning to them.

The Assistance to Firefighters, Fire Prevention and Safety Grant funded the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT), which partners with Oklahoma ABLE Tech and Fire Protection Publications, both at Oklahoma State University. Grant funds provide for the installation of free smoke alarms and specialized alert devices for people in Oklahoma who have disabilities. Oklahoma experiences a home fire death rate that is more than double the national fire death rate, and people with disabilities are even at greater risk for a home fire death or injury. This is the 21st “save” in Oklahoma where smoke alarms and alert devices funded by the AFG Fire Prevention and Safety Grants have alerted people to a fire in their home and escaped safely.

United States Fire Administration reports that in the past week 56 home fire fatalities were reported by the U.S. news media. These deaths are the result of 42 home fires.

For technical questions about the smoke alarms and alert equipment contact Nancy Trench at 405-744-8100 or nancy.trench@okstate.edu.

For more information for Oklahomans who are hard of hearing, deaf, low vision, blind, or use a device for mobility assistance contact Oklahoma ABLE Tech at 405-744-9748 or 800-257-1705. Smoke alarms and alert devices are free for people with disabilities in Oklahoma and are available now. To complete the application go to: https://www.ok.gov/abletech/Fire_Safety/index.html