Due to the extended power outages during the February winter storm event, the Coppell Fire Department is reminding residents to check the batteries in their household smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. After extended periods of power failure, batteries are more likely to be weak and in need of replacement. Coppell homeowners are encouraged to replenish smoke alarm batteries and other disaster preparedness items this weekend during Texas’ Emergency Supplies Sales Tax Holiday.
AC-powered and plugin smoke and carbon monoxide alarms rely on a continuous source of electricity to operate. The primary power source for this type of alarm is the electricity from the home. If the electricity in a home goes out, like it did in many Coppell homes in February, these alarms automatically switch to their secondary power source—the backup battery. The backup battery should power the alarm for a minimum of seven days without electricity to keep the home protected; however, the longer the unit operates on battery power, the faster the battery depletes. If the unit does not have a functioning battery, or the battery is dead, it cannot alert occupants of a potentially dangerous or life-threatening home fire.
It is recommended that Coppell residents test their home smoke alarms at least once a month to ensure they are working properly. Regardless of whether a smoke alarm is hardwired in with a battery backup, or solely powered by a battery, batteries should be replaced every six months, while the alarm itself should be replaced once every 10 years. For 10-year lithium-powered smoke alarms, it isn’t necessary to replace the battery. Instead, the entire alarm should be replaced after 10 years have passed.
The Coppell Fire Department ran over 70 emergency calls related to residential fire alarms caused by improper maintenance (e.g. battery changing) of smoke alarms during the first 24-hours of the power outage caused by the February severe winter weather event. Homeowners can help the fire department direct services to more urgent emergency calls by taking the time to maintain their own smoke alarms. If a homeowner notices a high-pitched chirping noise coming from a smoke alarm, that’s a sign that the batteries need to be replaced. Installing and properly maintaining smoke alarms is a simple action that will help keep homeowners and their families safe.
This weekend, all Texans can purchase certain emergency preparation supplies, including batteries, tax free during the annual Texas Emergency Supplies Sales Tax Holiday. There is no limit on the number of qualifying items that can be purchased, and no exemption certificate is needed to claim the exemption. Purchases can be made in-store, online, by telephone, mail, or custom order. This year’s holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 26. More information about the holiday and qualifying items can be found on the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ website.