With the end of daylight-saving time approaching on Sunday, November 3, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey reminds residents to practice 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.
“It only takes a few minutes to check your smoke alarm and it could potentially be the difference between life and death,” said Commissioner Causey. “Smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a fire in half, but they need to be in working condition in order to do their job.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, families have an average of three minutes to get out of their homes once their smoke alarm sounds due to fire. However, those life-saving minutes only occur when alarms are fully powered and operational.
So far this year, 96 people in North Carolina have died because of fire. In the majority of those instances, a working smoke alarm was not present in the home.
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 to get 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.