The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 8, 2013

EFD: Check smoke alarm batteries at time change

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid Fire Department officials are encouraging residents to check their smoke alarms when they reset their clocks to spring forward this weekend.

“This weekend we will all be setting our clocks to daylight-saving time,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Todd Hays. “The time change is a good reminder to check your smoke alarms.”

According to National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths from 2005 to 2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a home fire, Hays said.

“A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.”

Hays said smoke alarms must be maintained.

“A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all, so test your smoke alarm monthly by pushing the ‘test’ button, if it has one,” he said.

NFPA reports 96 percent of all homes have at least one smoke alarm, according to a 2010 telephone survey.

When smoke alarms fail to operate, it usually is because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead, according to the safety organization. Almost one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures was due to dead batteries.

Smoke alarms are powered by either a battery or are hardwired into a home’s electrical system. Hardwired smoke alarms usually are equipped with a backup battery.

“If your smoke alarm is powered by battery, the battery needs to be replaced annually unless it is a long-life battery,” Hays said, noting a check of the owner’s manual will tell what type of battery is used. “All batteries should be maintained and replaced in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance.”

Hays recommended choosing an annual date, such as the time change, when you will remember to maintain your smoke alarm in working condition.

“Check the manufacturer’s expiration date on the label, replace the batteries if needed and clean dust away from the slots so that smoke can enter freely,” Hays said. “All smoke alarms, hardwired and battery powered, should be replaced every 10 years.”

Hays said continued maintenance of smoke alarms can save lives.

“These simple steps will help ensure that you and your family will have the best chance of surviving if fire should strike,” he said.