Almost two weeks ago, 12-year-old Alixon Lopez Martinez saved her family from their burning home in Elkridge, and her brave dash began when she was awakened by the piercing sound from a device on her bedroom's ceiling.
"Thank God that I was awakened by that alarm to save my family and I was scared,” Alixon told us, “I was in shock when I saw the fire."
Tragically, two out of three fire deaths occur in homes without alarms or with those that have missing or disconnected batteries.
That's why beginning on January 1, 2018, Maryland will require homeowners to replace the traditional battery-operated devices with new tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium ion battery smoke alarms.
It's relatively new technology that will do away with the need to replace outdated batteries each year.
Inspectors will make sure they're installed in new homes, apartments, hotels and motels, but it is the average homeowner that will have to recognize the need to update the alarms on their own.
"Although it is a state law, it's going to be tough to enforce, because we are not going to go out to people's homes. We're not going to knock at their doors and ask if they have a 10-year battery and it's not going to be any penalties for not having such an alarm," said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire.
Adding to the difficulty for homeowners is separate requirements depending upon when their homes were built, whether their existing alarms have an electrical backup and, of course, the expense of replacing multiple devices at once.
But it's estimated they'll recuperate those costs by not having to replace their batteries year.
"It's going to be a little money up front, but in the end, it's going to pay for itself and really in the end, what pays for itself if the saving of life," said Rich Gardiner of the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS.
In Harford County, residents can request up to three free 10-year smoke alarms from their nearest fire company through a program funded by the American Red Cross.
To qualify, you must set up an appointment to allow the firefighters to install the devices in your home.
Viewers in other areas can check with their respective fire departments to see if they participate in that program as well.