Smoke detector

Use daylight savings time as a reminder to change your smoke detector's batteries. 

THE ISSUE: Nearly 3 in every 5 home-fire deaths result from fires in houses without smoke detectors (38%) or no working smoke detectors (21%), the National Fire Protection Association reports. When smoke alarms fail, it’s usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead. Almost one-quarter — 24% — of smoke alarm failures were caused by dead batteries.

Smoke alarms — that is, working smoke alarms — can avert unspeakable tragedy. It’s really that simple.

The National Fire Protection Association says that “today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.”

Here are some of their consumer tips:

— Install smoke alarms in every room where people sleep and outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the house, including the basement.

— Connect smoke alarms so when one sounds, they all sound. This is especially important if you sleep with the door closed.

— Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by pressing the test button to be sure the alarm works.

— Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on a wall, and away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. Smoke alarms should be at least 10 feet from the stove.

— Replace all smoke alarms when they’re 10 years old.

— Use special alarms that have strobe lights and bed shakers if a resident has hearing impairments.

— Plan an outside meeting place where everyone will gather once they have escaped the residence in the case of a fire. Pick something permanent, like a tree, light pole or mailbox a safe distance in front of the home.

— Assign a person in the household to assist any infants, children, older adults or family members with mobility limitations in getting out of the house in case of emergency.

The Lancaster City Bureau of Fire operates a smoke detector program for owner-occupied residences. For eligible and approved applicants, the program will provide and install lithium detectors that last 10 years for free. After that, the homeowner must replace them (see for more details).

Blood drive needs donors

As reported in the Jan. 5 Sunday LNP, eight Lancaster County police departments are starting off the new year with the Bleed Blue Challenge, a blood donation competition.

The public is encouraged to participate by donating blood to Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s blood bank on behalf of their preferred police department by Jan. 31.

The department with the most community and police donations over the month will receive a plaque.

The first Bleed Blue Challenge was last year from January through March; the Manheim Township, East Hempfield, East Lampeter and Lancaster city police departments took part. Eighty-eight pints of blood were collected, with Manheim Township coming out on top.

Brian Stambaugh, LG Health’s director of laboratory operations, told LNP that blood donations decrease nationwide over the winter because of the weather, flu season and busy holiday schedules.

“Our first responders and police are great leaders in caring for our community,” he said. “This effort is one more contribution they are willing to make.”

Here’s how much blood donations matter:

According to the American Red Cross, one donation can potentially save up to three lives. And every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.

About 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S., the Red Cross adds, as well as nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma.

But according to the Red Cross, only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood, and “a third of the public has never considered that blood may not be available when a loved one needs it.”

Yet blood transfusion is one of the most common hospital procedures in the United States.

We’re glad to see four more police departments (Columbia, Millersville, Millersville University and Pennsylvania State Police) taking part this year — bringing the total to eight — and thank all of them for leading in this effort.

To donate blood, participants must be 16 years or older; weigh at least 110 pounds; be in good health with no history of hepatitis; and have gotten no tattoos or body piercing within the last year.

Donors can visit the LG Health Blood Donor Center at 2104 Harrisburg Ave. in East Hempfield Township, or check online for a list of local blood drives.

If you’re already a blood donor, bless you. If you’re not and are eligible to become one, we urge you to do so. What you’re donating is a life-saving gift.