While some people might not make smoke detectors a priority for their home fire safety, Hector Montoya believes they can be the difference between life and death. The 9-year old Dallas native went so far as to spend his hard-earned savings on smoke detectors for families in need, becoming a local hero in the process.

The idea to help less fortunate families at risk of home fires began with Hector’s grandmother. She told him a news story about a mother and her infant child dying in a home fire where smoke detectors were not installed. The young man was concerned for other families in similar situations and decided to not only spread awareness about home fire safety but also act on the troublesome situation.

With the money he saved for a gaming system, Hector bought about 100 smoke detectors for families in his community. The story of a young boy sacrificing to help others went viral on NBC Dallas and Fort Worth’s Facebook page. Within hours, many locals left comments expressing their desire to help the cause. Other concerned citizens wanted to find a way to reward Hector for his kindness and thoughtfulness.

One family was so moved that they took it upon themselves to get Hector his gaming system. Ashton and Peyton Harder worked out a plan with their mother and bought a PS4 system the same night they heard the story.

“To see a 9-year old worrying about so many others, you can’t help but want to give him what he wants,” 19-year old Ashton told NBC-DFW News. “We thought that he deserved something special.”

Developing Your Own Home Fire Safety Plan

Hector Montoya’s dedication to spreading home fire safety awareness has spurred many to create basic fire escape plans. Here are a few tips to help you get started on yours:

Know Your Escape Plan

A fire can double or triple within minutes. Depending on the size of your home, you may have as little as two minutes to evacuate once your smoke alarms go off. By simulating a house fire and going through the motions of your family escape plan, you will be prepared in the event of an emergency. Gather everyone in your household and have a family meeting where you discuss the safety plan. Slowly walk through your home with your children. Show them all the possible exits and escape routes, inspecting the integrity of each exit as you pass through. Designate a meeting spot that would be out of range of any fires and make sure all your family members know how to find it. If you think your family members are visual learners, you might want to draw a large, clearly drawn floor plan that displays the exits of your home. The floor plan should include two ways to leave each room in the house. Do not forget that windows on the first floor, and in some cases the second floor, can be used as exits as well.

If you want to make your floor plan as complete as possible, you can draw the location of each smoke alarm. By doing this, your family can get a general idea of the origin of the fire and avoid that area when escaping.

Fire Emergency Preparation Tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. If you or your family members like to sleep with your doors shut, place a smoke alarm in each room.
  • Make sure your alarm batteries are fresh. Test the smoke alarms once a month.
  • Do not place the smoke detectors near windows, doors, or ducts. The amount of ventilation could interfere with the alarm’s effectiveness.
  • Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year.

Some Fire Escape Facts:

  • The most effective way to protect yourself and your family is to identify and remove fire hazards.
  • Only 26 percent of American families have fire escape plans and have practiced their escape routes.
  • Having a working smoke alarm reduces the risk of death by smoke inhalation and fire by nearly half.
  • The number of home fires the American Red Cross has responded to has increased by 10 percent since 2000.

Have any tips on preparing your family for a fire emergency? Be sure to let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Protect America is also on LinkedIn.

Cover photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons