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As most Americans spring forward one hour this weekend, Life Safety Park reminds homeowners to "change your clocks AND change your batteries" on Sunday, March 11. "Fresh batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can help provide the extra seconds needed to save a life," Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson states.According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71% of smoke alarms which failed to operate during a fire had missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, testing alarms monthly, and reminding others to do the same are some of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries.Statistics also say that a fatal home fire occurs every three hours somewhere in the United States. "The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are asleep. It is vital to have these warning devices in working order to wake the family if there is imminent danger" says Chief Richardson. Smoke alarm maintenance is key to keeping a family safe. Smoke alarms can be 'cleaned' by vacuuming them monthly or utilizing compressed air following the manufacturer instructions. After ten years of service, all smoke alarms should be replaced. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on a 10-year battery alarm, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away. Never paint smoke alarms – paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
In addition, Chief Richardson recommends residents not only to change the batteries in all smoke alarms but to also plan and practice exit plans. Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows two ways out of every room in the house. Every household member should know the agreed upon meeting spot once the exit plan is executed, and encourage fellow neighbors and community members to do the same. Families should also prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries.
Click here for a free, downloadable grid that you can use to start a fire escape plan with your family.
You can read more about the NFPA report on smoke alarms in U.S. home fires by clicking here.