As part of National Fire Prevention Week and in light of recent fatal house fires, the Allegheny County Health Department is reminding residents that every home should have a smoke alarm on every level.
Free smoke alarms, including installation and fire safety education, are available from the County Health Department. To schedule an installation, call 412-247-7800.
While the smoke alarms are available countywide, priority is given to the elderly and disabled and residents of 17 communities with the county's highest house fire rates including the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Allentown, Beltzhoover and Carrick.
The program, which is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, offers smoke alarms powered with built-in lithium batteries designed to last 10 years and provides one alarm for every level of the home.
House fires are a major cause of death and injury, especially during the cold weather months, and working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in such a fire by 50 percent.
Kitchen fires account for 40 percent of all house fires. Other major causes include smoking materials, electrical problems, malfunctioning heating equipment and the use of unattended candles.