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Expired: Smoke detectors no good after 10 years

When did you last install a smoke detector in your home? If it's been since 2006, chances are it's now obsolete and may not protect you if a fire breaks out. (KTUL)

When did you last install a smoke detector in your home? If it's been since 2006, chances are it's now obsolete and may not protect you if a fire breaks out.

When it comes to a house fire, timing is everything. It takes only seconds for a house to fill up with smoke and minutes before everything is burning.

It’s a smell and a fear that Crystal Fulton knows well after she woke up to her fire alarm going off a few years ago.

“I’m thinking, I’m still dreaming,” said Fulton. “I ran upstairs, turned the corner and saw my son’s room on fire.”

In October 2014, her son’s room caught fire. But for the first time since living there, he happened to be sleeping in another room.

“I had to crawl at this point because the smoke was so bad,” remembered Fulton. “Just about two and a half feet above the floor.”

“You see people get hurt because they didn’t (have a smoke detector) and it’s frustrating,” said Deputy Chief Ryan Lawson, with the Broken Arrow Fire Department.

Lawson and the BAFD "smoked out" a house for Channel 8’s I-team just to show how quickly things can change.

“It’s surprisingly realistic,” said Lawson. “The biggest difference is the heat.”

During a real fire, smoke near the ceiling can get to 1,400 degrees. Lawson said when escaping a smokey house you need to crawl, but you only have minutes to get out.

“We try to get there within five minutes so we can knock down the fire,” said Lawson.

There’s an important notice on the smoke detector going off in the house: An expiration date. After 10 years, it’s no good even if you’ve replaced the battery.

“You’re more likely to die in a fire if you do not have a working smoke detector in your house,” said Lawson.

In August 2017, Fulton thought she might have been having a terrible flashback when she smelled smoke.

“We ran out to the front yard, looked up and the whole entire house is on fire again,” said Fulton.

This time, lightning struck the attic right next to her son’s room. She said the family has found humor in their bad luck.

“Once we get there, we take our back-to-school picture in his room,” said Fulton, laughing. “They’re both giving a thumbs up and I’m like, this is totally us.”

Her family is crashing in a rental house for now. There aren’t pictures on the walls or decorations up, but there are plenty of working smoke detectors.

Firefighters say the best places to put smoke detectors in a home are right outside of bed rooms and the living room. Often if a smoke detector is only in the kitchen, firefighters said its batteries are taken out or it’s not working because cooking sets it off.

BAFD gives out plenty of free smoke detectors each year. Lawson said they’ll even come install it for you. Give them a call if you need a fire alarm. Their number is 918-259-8360.

The Tulsa Fire department also offers free smoke detectors or fire alarms. You can give them a call at 918-596-9420.

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