Spring Forward on Sunday, March 11 by Changing Your Clocks and Changing Batteries in Your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Ensure family and friends over age 60 have working smoke alarms

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

March 9, 2018 - As you spring forward to Daylight Saving Time and set your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 11, be sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years, test them monthly and clean them regularly.

"Working smoke alarms cut your risk of dying in a house fire in half,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. "If you have a fire, you will have less than three minutes to get out of your home before the smoke and fire gases become deadly based on live fire studies conducted by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). The early warning given by smoke alarms provide you with extra time to escape, especially children and senior citizens who are most at risk and need extra seconds to get out safely."

In 2017, Michigan’s fire departments collectively reported 87 residential fire fatalities with the highest percentage (52.4 percent) among those over age 60. Sehlmeyer, along with the Michigan Community Risk Reduction (CRR) task force is focusing on increasing awareness through education, the importance of having working smoke alarms in every home, especially among those over age 60; and installing smoke alarms in high-risk areas in the state as identified in 2017 fire reports. 

Sehlmeyer urges Michiganders to ensure family members, friends and neighbors over age 60 have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. Please contact your local fire department or local Red Cross Chapter for installation or if a financial issue is preventing your family from having a working smoke alarm.

Homes should have a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, including the basement, and one in every bedroom. Never borrow a battery from a smoke alarm to use somewhere else. Never remove the battery because the alarm sounded due to burned food or cooking smoke. “Every year we see tragedy hit because a battery was removed for these reasons and was not replaced,” said Sehlmeyer.

If your smoke alarm “chirps,” it’s a warning that the battery is low and needs to be replaced. Traditional smoke alarms are either powered by battery (a disposable 9-volt battery or non-replaceable 10-year lithium “long-life” battery) or they are hardwired into the home’s electrical system. Hard-wired alarms are usually equipped with a backup battery and those batteries also need to be replaced at some point. It’s best to hard-wire alarms into the home’s electrical system interconnecting all of the alarms so that when one goes off, they all go off.

Sehlmeyer also urges citizens to install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. CO alarms should be installed in the hallway outside the bedrooms as this odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal at relatively low levels in the home. If the CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately, and call 9-1-1.

“Develop and practice an escape plan for the family that has two ways out in case of fire,” said Sehlmeyer. “At least twice a year, conduct a home fire drill at night so the kids recognize the sound of the smoke alarms and teach them to respond instinctively to their signal by exiting the home.”

Designate a clear meeting place for everyone to gather outside the home in case of a fire or other emergency and notify the fire department by calling 9-1-1 from a safe location once you are out of the home. Help your firefighters by remaining together outside the home and direct them to any endangered family members when they arrive.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when most families are sleeping. In more than one-third of home fire deaths, no smoke alarms were present. In one-quarter of home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present, but did not sound.

For more fire safety information visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs

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