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Fire department: Get smoke alarms
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As the spring time change approaches, local fire officials saw another reason this week to remind homeowners of the importance of having working smoke alarms.

Officials always urge homeowners to change the batteries in their smoke alarms with each time change, but a fire early Thursday at an East Ridge Road home shows the potential dangers of going without one.

"Last night really should drive home the importance of smoke alarms and having an exit plan," Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said.

The home of Laquita Imes and her three children had no working smoke alarm when a fire broke out at about midnight from a faulty clothes dryer. One daughter awakened to the sounds of the fire and woke the other occupants. She was overcome by smoke and was rescued from the burning home by firefighters.

According to the United States Fire Administration, 90 percent of all homes in the U.S. now have smoke alarms, but smoke alarms are found in only 58 percent of homes where fatal fires occur. Of those, only about a third are in working condition.

"A lot of fires we encounter, they haven’t been tested, they haven’t been maintained," Cagle said.

Cagle recommends testing smoke alarms once a month and changing batteries with each time change.

Escape plans are also key, he said. Homeowners should have an alternate escape route if the main doors in a house are impassable. Windows that are nailed or painted shut should be opened.

Hall County Fire Services provides free smoke alarms. For more information, call 770-531-6838.

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