By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
October 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--It’s time to change our clocks this coming Sunday November 4th “back” for daylight savings and when we do that it’s a good time to change our smoke detector batteries and check their condition says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms. Since most fatal fires occur at night, it’s essential that every home have working smoke alarms to provide an early warning.
Eighty percent of child fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms additionally Adults 75 and older are 2.8 times more likely to die in a home fire. A working smoke detector doubles your chance of surviving a home fire.
Change Your Clocks – Change Your Batteries
Batteries in a smoke alarm should be changed at least twice a year, even if they are hardwired into the electrical. A good time to remember to check your smoke alarm and change the batteries is when you change your clocks twice a year as daylight saving time begins and ends.
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, in the hallways leading to the bedrooms, and on each level of your home including the basement. Smoke alarms should be mounted on the ceiling 4” from the wall; wall mounts should be 4-12” from the ceiling. Do not install near draft areas such as windows or vents. Call your local fire department if you are unsure about placement.
Smoke Alarm Maintenance
In addition to changing the batteries twice a year, you should test your smoke alarm every month by simply holding down on the test button. Vacuum your alarm at least once a year. Dust and cobwebs can impair sensitivity. Never paint over a smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
When the Alarm Goes Off
If the alarm goes off crawl low to the ground under the smoke and exit your home quickly. Don’t try to take anything with you, just get out. Once safely outside, go to your family meeting place to ensure that everyone got out safely. Once you’re out, Stay out!
Make sure to prepare and practice an escape plan including a family meeting place. Just like schools practice fire drills, families should also practice what to do if their smoke alarms go off.
Remember, almost every day a smoke alarm saves somebody’s life!