HARRISBURG– Acting Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey is highlighting the importance of fresh batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as Pennsylvanians’ attention turns toward this weekend’s “fall back” time change.
“Fall is the perfect time to do some routine maintenance on your detectors and even your home heating system to ensure you’re prepared for colder weather,” McGarvey said. “Having functional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors is the simplest, most effective way to ensure one’s family members are alerted early enough to respond. Test your alarms monthly and replace the batteries regularly.”
According to data from the National Fire Protection Association, from the moment an alarm sounds, occupants may have as little as two minutes to safely exit the building.
McGarvey said dead or missing batteries are the most common cause of smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector malfunctions. When functioning, smoke alarms can decrease the risk of dying in a home fire by as much as half.
Often called “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they are aware, they have been exposed. Sources include wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired fireplaces, appliances, grills and generators, and motor vehicles. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.
These safety tips can help you equip your home properly with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors:
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home including the basement.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
Newer models of smoke alarms marketed as having long-lasting batteries may not need to have their batteries replaced; however, these models should still be tested. Many homeowners still use older models that use standard batteries that must be replaced regularly.