Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak reminds Tennesseans to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend when they change their clocks Saturday night, March 8 for daylight saving time. McPeak also urges everyone to consider the age of their smoke alarms.
Both the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department have smoke alarms available free of charge. "We are installing smoke alarms for those who do not have them or if they are over 10 years old," said Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker.
"It's for everybody. Anybody without a smoke alarm or without a properly working smoke alarm is considered at high risk. If you have a smoke alarm and it is ten years old, which is what is considered the shelf life of a smoke alarm, then it needs to be replaced," added DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green.
“Alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they are providing the proper protection,” McPeak says. “It is also important to note that any smoke alarm that is 10-years-old or older should be replaced entirely.”
Oftentimes, people don’t know how old their smoke alarms are and if they’re still functioning properly. That lack of awareness can have deadly consequences: nearly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office urges all residents to determine how old their smoke alarms are (the date of manufacture is located on the back of the alarm). If they’re 10-years-old or older, they should be replaced immediately! This includes smoke alarms that use 10-year batteries and/or are hard-wired.
Many fatal fires occur at night while the victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.
“As daylight saving time begins, make sure you change your clocks and check your smoke alarms,” urges McPeak. “This is a great time to make sure your home and family are fire-safe.”
Here are some other helpful hints on residential smoke alarms:
•Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
•Install smoke alarms away from the kitchen to prevent nuisance alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance.
•For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms. Interconnect the alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
•Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
•For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year (preferably twice a year during daylight saving time). If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
•Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
•Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or doesn't work properly when tested.
•Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a common meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.
•When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 911.
For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist (http://tn.gov/fire/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf).
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.