Local Fire Departments Urge Citizens To
Test Smoke Detectors When Changing Clocks
This Weekend

By: Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis Published: Mar 10, 2007 at 07:00

Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis states, "Two recent nighttime structure fires here in Grass Valley where smoke detectors were either inoperative or not installed have once again underscored the need for our citizens to make absolutely sure home smoke detectors are installed and functioning properly. Both fires could easily have resulted in multiple fatalities had residents not been awakened by the sound of the fire."

- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year, or as soon as the alarm "chirps" warning that the battery is low. The Fire Department recommends replacing batteries the same day you change your clocks from daylight savings time to standard time in the fall.

- Use the time change in the spring (this weekend) as a reminder to test your smoke detectors.

- While 95 percent of American homes have at least one smoke alarm, more than a third of these alarms are inoperable because of dead or missing batteries. Roughly 70% of the more than 3500 annual home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

- Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

- Test your smoke alarms once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.

- Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can't warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected.

- Don't disable smoke alarms even temporarily. If your smoke alarm is sounding "nuisance alarms," try relocating it farther from kitchens or bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound.

- Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarms, following the manufacturer's instructions, can keep them working properly.

- Smoke alarms don't last forever. Replace yours once every 10 years. If you can't remember how old the alarm is, then it's probably time for a new one.

- Consider installing smoke alarms with "long-life" (10-year) batteries.

- Plan regular fire drills to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at the sound of the alarm.

- The majority of fire deaths occur at night when most people are sleeping.

- Some studies have shown that some children may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm. Know what your child will do before a fire occurs.

- If someone doesn't wake up when the alarm sounds during a drill, suggest installing additional hard-wired, interconnected alarms inside every bedroom.

- At the least, the family should assign a grown-up who is easily awakened by the alarm to wake the sleepers, perhaps by yelling "FIRE," pounding on the wall or door, or blowing a whistle.

- Since the primary job of a Smoke Alarm is to awaken sleeping persons and warn them of urgent danger, the most critical requirement is to put your alarm as close as possible to the bedrooms. If two sleeping areas are separated by any significant distance, each should have its own alarm. Next consider the probable path along which smoke would travel in your home. In single level homes, this usually means placing the alarm in the hallway off which the bedroom doors open. In a house where the bedrooms are upstairs, the alarm should be near the top of the stairs to the bedrooms.

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