The Red Cross says that, on average, families have less than two minutes to escape their home safely during a fire, about the amount of time that it takes to brush your teeth. The Red Cross also says that home fires are the nation's most frequent disaster and account for the vast majority of Red Cross disaster responses each year.
I invited Deputy Fire Marshal Tyrone Morgan from the Billings Fire Department come to my home and see if it is safe from fire risks.
One of the first things that he told me surprised me. Smoke detectors have an expiration date. If you pull them off and look on the back, you can see if your smoke detectors are still good. Smoke detectors need to be replaced every ten years.
Morgan says, "You take an older home, say 1960s, 1950s style home and they weren't necessarily placed there as they were being built. So, it would have been up to the homeowner themselves to install one. And, you often find a smoke alarm that is completely outdated. You'll find smoke alarms that say 2002 and 2005."
Although infrequent, the Billings Fire Department also sees carbon monoxide poisoning. Morgan recommends having a carbon monoxide detector on every floor.
He says, "The Billings Fire Department has gone on calls where the person doesn't feel good. The person feels nauseous. And, we get there and the firefighters themselves start to feel the effects of carbon monoxide."
Morgan also checked the vents in my bathroom. Although my vents look good for now, he says to clean off dust or lint if it starts to build up.
Finally, Morgan checked the area around my water heater. He says you shouldn't store boxes or other things close to your water heater. Instead, you should leave space around your water heater to prevent a fire risk.
If you check your smoke alarms and discover that they have expired, you can get a new one for free this weekend. The American Red Cross is installing free smoke alarms in Billings homes on Saturday. To get your free smoke alarm, you can call (406) 657-8423 or go to https://www.redcross.org/local/montana/about-us/our-work/home-fire-campaign/home-fire-safety-visit.html.