Firefighters said some of these lives could have been saved with the help of working smoke alarms.
The Charleston Fire Department is one of many departments in the region which offers free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for people who stop by and ask. Firefighters will also help you install the device if you are unable to.
Fire Investigator Wes Smith said smoke alarms are virtually ready to use once you open the box. Some require you to add batteries, and some come with batteries. He recommends mounting the device on the ceiling, six inches away from the wall.
"Preferably, we'd mount these on the ceiling because that's where the smoke goes. Smoke goes up. It's on the ceiling. That's the fastest way to detect the smoke," he said.
There are two types of smoke alarms; ionization for fast moving fires and photoelectric for slow, smoldering fires. Smith said there are arguments about which kind is better, however, either device is better than nothing, he said.
Smith said the batteries need to be changed every six months, and the entire device should be replaced every 10 years.
There should be a minimum of one smoke alarm per floor. He said the best practice is to have one in every bedroom and common room.
Prices range from $5-$30 depending on the make and model.
Call your local fire department to learn how you can get a smoke alarm for free.