Daylight Savings Time Is Reminder to Change Smoke Detector Batteries
By Fire Chief Dustin Ulrich, Chambersburg Fire Department
Daylight Savings Timefor most meanstimeto change the clocks and adapt to the new daylight schedule. But for fire departments, it signifies the time of the year to remind everyone to change batteries in smoke alarms. It is also a good time to complete a few simple safety checks.
TheNational Fire Protection Associationreports thateach year there areover 350,000home structural fires in the UnitedStates. Those fires unfortunately also accountfor over 2,600 civilian deaths. Many fires start by unattended cooking, improper usage of heating appliances, oroverloading of electrical distribution systems within homes.
Having a properly installed and operating smoke detector is essential for early detection of a fire. It could alsobe a matter of life or death. Modern day fires burn quicker and produce highly toxic gases that can quickly overcomeindividuals within their home.
Each year, almost 65% of fire deaths inresidencesoccurred where there wereno smokealarms, oralarmsthat weremade inoperable by removing the battery.
How Often Should You Test Your Smoke Alarm?
Test each smoke alarm once every month to ensure the battery is not dead and the alarm is operating properly.
To test your smoke detector, hold down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone. In some cases, you may need to press the button again to turn the alarm off.
During the testing process, note the manufacture date of the alarm. Life expectancy of smoke alarms is around ten years. Newer homes have interconnected alarms so if one goes off, all of them go off. Follow all manufacture recommendations when replacing smoke alarms.
An additionalrecommendationis to look for alarms that have 10-year lithium batteries that do not need replaced every six months. Alsolook for alarms that have a “hush” feature where the alarm can be silenced for a few minutes if an unintentional activation occurs.
This “hush” feature is on many modern alarms to prevent someone from deliberately disabling the alarm. Permanently disabled alarms will not properly notify residentsina true emergency.
In addition to testing, smoke alarms alsoshould be vacuumed at least once every six months to remove dust buildup and cobwebs. When vacuuming smoke detectors, make sure to use a soft brush attachment around and along each of the vents.Test the alarm again After each cleaning to verify it is operating as it should.
Develop a Fire Escape Plan
Each family should also develop a fire escape plan for their home. It’s important to choose both a primary exit and secondary exit in case one is blocked by smoke and fire. The plan should also include apre-arrangedmeeting place.
Routinely reviewing this escape plan, as well as practicingday and night,couldsavevaluable secondswhenescaping a home fire. Review your escape plan with house guests and update it if renovations take place within the residence.
For more information on smoke alarms or fire safety in your home, contact your local fire department.
If you live in Chambersburg, the Fire Department has a wonderful fire prevention and community safety program providing no-cost smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and address signs.
For more information please contact thestation at 717-263-5872 and on-duty personnel will be able to assist with more information.
Links to Additional Information
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