Seven children younger than 8 years of age, along with two adults, died as a result of a fire Saturday at their home in Charleston, W.Va.
Firefighters found one smoke detector in the home. It was stored in a cabinet and was not operating.
No one can say with certainty whether operating smoke detectors would have prevented the Charleston deaths. But it is known that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - when working - do save lives.
Too many homes lack such detectors. And in too many with them, they are installed and forgotten. Batteries are not replaced. Operating checks are not performed.
In New York state, every home is required to have a smoke detector.
In homes with sleeping areas on different floors, a smoke detector should be on each floor adjacent to the sleeping quarters. People should test their detectors once a month by pressing the test button, vacuum dust from the detectors once a year and replace the batteries when changing the clocks in the spring and fall.
If your home doesn't have smoke detectors, install them. If you already have them, make sure they are installed properly and are operational. Do it now - and make it a point to do so regularly in the future.