Working smoke alarms ultimately saved the lives a Charlottesville, NC, woman and her two daughters, but a delayed response to the alarms contributed to a dramatic escape. Here’s a brief overview of what happened:
A kitchen towel was accidentally ignited by a candle in the kitchen, triggering the smoke alarm to sound. After believing the towel was extinguished, the mother went upstairs with her two daughters, one of whom was an infant. When the smoke alarm began to sound again, she assumed that the residual smoke had set it off. By the time she investigated further, the fire had spread to piles of laundry in the kitchen and smoke conditions had banked down to the floor.
In an effort to escape their home, the mother returned upstairs, took her two daughters into a front bedroom, and closed the door behind them. Using a window over the front porch to escape, the infant daughter was lowered to neighbors with a bed sheet. When the fire department arrived, the older girl was in the process of being lowered to neighbors. The mother was brought down by the department’s ground ladder.
We so often focus on the importance of having working smoke alarms in the home, which, of course, is vital to fire safety. But when a smoke alarm sounds, it needs to be taken seriously and responded to with a sense of urgency. That’s another message we need to keep communicating publicly. Fortunately in this case, when the mom realized there was a fire in her home, she took appropriate steps to protect herself and her daughters.