N.C. Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey reminds residents of this life-saving habit: When you change your clock this weekend for the end of daylight saving time, remember to change the battery in your smoke alarm.
“Smoke alarms save lives, but they need to work in order to do it,” said Commissioner Causey. “It takes just a few minutes to see if your smoke alarm battery is in working order and is a potentially life-saving investment of your time and energy.”
Three minutes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, that’s how much time families have on average to get out of their homes after their smoke alarm sounds due to fire. However, those life-saving minutes only occur when alarms are fully powered and operational.
“Three minutes is also the average time it takes to change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors—that’s not a lot of time,” added Causey. “Changing your clock either back or forward should be like tying a string around your finger to remember to check your smoke alarm battery. The two practices need to go hand in hand.”
The NFPA reports three out of every five home fire deaths across the nation resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Of those, in fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than half of them had missing or disconnected batteries after nuisance alarms, such as the alarm going off during cooking. Dead batteries caused one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures. Hardwired power source problems caused 7 percent of the failures. The rest of the failures occurred because of defective or improperly installed alarms.
In addition to changing or checking your smoke alarm battery, residents should take note of the following fire preparedness tips:
- Place a smoke alarm on every level of your home outside sleeping areas. If you keep bedroom doors shut, place a smoke alarm in each bedroom.
- Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
- Prepare and practice an escape plan – know at least two ways out of a room, crawl low under smoke and plan where to meet outside.
- Keep smoke alarms clean by regularly vacuuming over and around it. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
- Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors, or ducts that can interfere with their operation.
- Never remove the battery from or disable a smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm is sounding “nuisance alarms,” try locating it further from kitchens or bathrooms.
For more information on how to check smoke alarm batteries or have an alarm installed, contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 1-800-634-7854.