DEAR ABBY: Smoke from a fire is sneaky, a silent killer. If a home fire breaks out while we are sleeping, we will not hear smoke as it creeps into our bedrooms, banking up the walls, curling across the ceiling. We will snuggle deeper into the blankets, unaware of the poisons enveloping us. It will grow and spread, becoming hotter and hotter, until it reaches our beds. Then our lungs will be filled with scorching poisonous gases silently extinguishing our lives.

That harsh scenario is what happens in home fires in America every single day. According to the Home Safety Council’s State of Home Safety in America Report, fire and burns are a leading cause of home injury-related death. To prevent this from happening, we need working smoke alarms.

October is Fire Safety Month, and it’s the logical time for all of us to consider how safe we are from fire. The majority of fire deaths occur at home, where we can make simple changes that can help us to stay safer.

When it comes to our personal safety and the safety of loved ones, we must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. A safe home is within our hands. – MERI-K APPY, PRESIDENT, HOME SAFETY COUNCIL

DEAR MERI-K: Thank you for the reminder. My experts have stressed to me that every home must have WORKING smoke alarms installed on each level of the house. Additional smoke detectors should be placed inside rooms where people sleep. The Home Safety Council recommends hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms powered by household electricity. They should be tied together so that if one alarm signals, they will all signal, regardless of where the fire is detected. And for the “ultimate” in fire protection, nothing compares to automatic fire sprinkler systems, which put water directly onto the flames in the early stages of fire, slowing the spread of deadly smoke and heat.

As “Step One” during Fire Safety Month, please make time this week to ensure you have enough smoke alarms. Replace batteries in existing alarms and test them once a month. For more information on smoke alarms, escape plans and home fire sprinkler systems, visit

Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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