As most Americans set their clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 7, Life Safety Park wants to remind homeowners to “change your clocks and change your batteries” this month. “Fresh batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can help provide the extra seconds needed to save a life,” Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson states.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (41%) or no working smoke alarms (16%). Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, testing those alarms monthly, and reminding others to do the same are some of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries.
Statistics also say that a fatal home fire occurs every three hours somewhere in the United States. “The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are asleep. That’s why it is vital to have these warning devices in good working order to wake the family if there is imminent danger. Smoke alarm maintenance is key to keeping a family safe,” says Chief Richardson.
It is important to note, however, that today’s smoke alarms are not all designed the same. Consumers now have the option of purchasing smoke alarms with a 10-year lithium battery. While the battery in these units does not need to be replaced yearly, they still need to be tested and maintained monthly.
Homes should also have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, and the batteries should be changed during the same time. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Low levels of CO poisoning cause symptoms similar to those of the flu or a cold. Higher levels of poisoning lead to dizziness, mental confusion, severe headache, and in severe cases, even death.
CO detectors are designed to sound an alert before the exposure to carbon monoxide would present a hazard to a healthy adult. Experts recommend that every home should have at least one working CO detector — ideally, one for every level of the home.
The time change is a good opportunity to test and clean smoke alarms and CO detectors by following the manufacturers’ instructions. Smoke alarms can be ‘cleaned’ by vacuuming them monthly or utilizing compressed air, and entire units should be replaced after ten years of service. CO detectors typically have a lifetime of 5-7 years.
In addition, Chief Richardson recommends residents also use the “extra” hour they save from the time change to plan and practice their home exit plans. Every member of each household should know the agreed upon meeting spot once the exit plan is executed and encourage fellow neighbors and community members to do the same. Families should also prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries.