WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (Sept. 29, 2021) – White Sands Missile Range firefighters will be doing their part to educate employees and the community about fire safety during Fire Prevention Week which runs from Oct. 3 thru Oct. 9. It began in 1925 and is the longest-running national safety observance. Last year fires killed more than 2,770 people in the United States in 2019, and fire departments in the United States responded to 339,500 home fires.
This year's theme is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!” and emphasizes the importance of learning the meanings behind lifesaving smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. According to the latest National Fire Prevention Association’s “Smoke Alarms in the U.S.” report, the death rate per 1,000 home structure fires is 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or alarms that fail to operate.
"If you hear a smoke detector go off or beep, it might mean that your battery is low or it is faulty. Or your carbon monoxide detector may make different sounds, and we want you to recognize those sounds and know what to do. That is the intent of this week,” said Noel Salas, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention at U.S. Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range.
The week kicks off with the White Sands Missile Range Garrison Commander signing the proclamation to officially declare Fire Prevention Week. Firefighters will visit White Sands School to educate children on fire safety. For those in the housing community, they will hold a Chalk the Block competition. At the El Paso and Las Cruces gates, the firefighters will also share information and pass out promotional items that include the White Sands Missile Range emergency services number 575-678-1234.
“The biggest challenge we have here on post is making sure people know that they need to call 575-678-1234 when they have an emergency, 911 does not always work. It does not always get transmitted or routed to our dispatch center. It might even go to Albuquerque or El Paso. Getting that message to the workforce and community members is our goal every year,” said Salas.
On top of learning the sounds of fire safety, our White Sands Missile Range firefighters have a few more tips they want the community to know. Replace the batteries of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms every six months. A good rule of thumb is to do it when you change your clock to "Spring Forward" or "Fall Back," which is coming up Nov. 7. Check your detectors monthly because you typically only have two minutes to escape your home safely during a fire. While at home or in a public place, learn the escape routes in the event that an emergency of any kind were to happen. When you leave your home or workplace, close doors behind you to contain the fire if one does happen.
"Activate smoke detectors with your kids, so they are not scared of the alarm and make a plan together on what to do if it goes off. You do not want them to hide under the bed, but you do not want them to go into danger. So have that conversation with your kids," said Salas. "Especially when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning, teach your kids to dial 911 or 575-678-1234 if you live here at White Sands Missile Range. Even if they can't say anything or explain what is going on, at the very least a police officer can go over to investigate.”
On a final note, with the increase of people having mobile phones as their main form of communication, consider teaching your young kids how to unlock your phone and what to do with your mobile device in case of an emergency.