EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 20, 2014

Editorial: Tragic lessons

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No law can require individuals to plug in detectors, check batteries, respond by calling fire officials when an alarm sounds.

Many among us have removed a battery when a smoke or CO detector sounds for no apparent cause or starts chirping at the end of its life. No law would change that behavior.

In the Live Free or Die state, personal freedom is held in much higher esteem than Big Brother laws.

A state that won’t mandate seat belts, car insurance or motorcycle helmets is unlikely to add another legal layer to its CO detector law. Lawmakers ought to consider it. That extra layer means inspections before a single-family home sale would at least guarantee the installation of such detectors, although it can’t mandate maintenance.

The incident Wednesday is a horrible reminder to every resident in every state. Take basic precautions to protect yourself and your family. If an alarm sounds, heed, don’t disable it.

In a world where cigarettes carry labels warning of the risks of smoking, where 49 states require adults to wear seat belts because they save lives, warnings and laws matter.

Fire death rates are 51 percent less in homes with working smoke detectors, according to the American Red Cross.

The Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security reports that every year since Nicole’s Law was enacted, many lives have been saved by CO detectors.

That’s reason enough right there.

Nothing can lessen the grief nor diminish the loss for the three victims’ families and friends.

But perhaps fewer lives will be lost as a result of this tragedy. Check smoke and CO detectors today. If they’re missing, replace them — now.

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