By Rachel Dove
Springtime is upon us and it is time to change our clocks again. Daylight Savings Time ended last night, and, hopefully, clocks have been set forward one hour.
This year marks the 26th anniversary of the “Change Your Clock Change Your Battery” program, created by Energizer batteries and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. This campaign reminds people to check and change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors during the spring time change. It’s quick and easy, and it could save your life.
According to information provided by East Fork of Twelve Pole Fire Chief, John Hall Jr., who also serves as vice president of the Mingo County Fire Chiefs Association, in 2013, West Virginia’s fire departments responded to more than 8,500 fires. More than 4,000 of these fires occurred in residences, where most fire deaths take place.
“Every year we see the same scenario; the weather gets colder, people are indoors more, and a fire breaks out. If the home has no working smoke alarms, families won’t get the early warning they need to safely escape the fire and we’ll be investigating more fire deaths that shouldn’t have happened,” Hall said. “Fires spread so much more quickly than people realize. A working smoke alarm sounding off can literally mean the difference between surviving a fire or becoming a victim.”
Smoke alarms have a wide range of user-friendly options, including hush buttons for nuisance alarms, long-life batteries, and various types of notification sounds. All smoke alarms should have the UL seal (Underwriters Laboratories) to show they have met recognized safety standards. They should then be installed and maintained according to manufacturers’ directions. They will provide advance warning in case of a fire.
Remember these tips about smoke alarms:
• Have smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially outside sleeping area and preferably inside bedrooms as well.
• Test them at least once a month, and replace batteries when you set your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
• Replace all detectors after 10 years.
• Place smoke alarms according to manufacturer’s directions.
• Clean the outside only of a smoke alarm by gently going over the cover with the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Never paint a smoke alarm.
• Whenever a smoke alarm beeps, take it seriously. It might just be a false alarm from cooking, temperature changes, or dust—but you can’t afford to ignore the alert. Everyone in the family needs to react immediately.
• Develop and practice a home escape plan. Make sure your family knows two ways out of each room, a safe meeting place outside, how to call 9-1-1 once they’re out, and why they should never go back into a burning house.
• West Virginia State Code requires all property owners to provide and install a working smoke alarm in the vicinity of the sleeping areas.
• For more information on smoke alarms and home fire safety, visit these websites: www.nrpa.org or www.usfa.fema.gov.
If you cannot afford smoke detectors or need assistance with installation, please contact your nearest fire department for help.