State Fire Marshal: Change Your Clocks, Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries, Sunday, March 10

Working smoke alarms save lives

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

March 8, 2019 – As you set clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time this weekend, adopt the life-saving habit of also changing the batteries in your smoke alarms. Daylight saving time officially begins on Sunday, March 10, at 2:00 a.m.

“In as little as three minutes, a home can be totally engulfed in flames especially with fire igniting the plastics and foam products in home furnishings today,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “These types of fires produce more heat, dark smoke and fire gases than in the past. Having working smoke alarms provide an early warning, giving the family a fighting chance to escape the home.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 71 percent of smoke alarm failures are a result of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. Never remove or disconnect batteries from detectors unless you are putting a new battery in the smoke alarm.

The state fire marshal along with the NFPA recommend the following:

  • Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button.
  • In 9-volt smoke alarms, replace batteries twice a year or when the smoke alarm begins to chirp, signaling that the battery is running low.
  • Install a smoke alarm in every bedroom or sleeping area and have one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. 
  • For added protection, consider an interconnected smoke alarm system, so when one smoke alarm sounds all the smoke alarms sound in the whole home.
  • Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.
  • Newer smoke alarms come with lithium batteries that can last up to ten (10) years.
  • Every ten years replace all your smoke alarms, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Choose alarms that bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory. For a list of nationally recognized testing laboratories go to: https://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/nrtllist.html
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing should equip their homes with alert devices such as high intensity strobe lights, and pillow or bed shakers that are activated by the sound of a standard smoke alarm. 

Sehlmeyer urges families to know “two ways out” in a home fire escape plan and practice it twice a year. Make sure all family members – especially children, recognize the sound of the smoke alarm, can respond instinctively to its signal and follow an escape plan.  Children are at an increased risk of dying in a home fire because they can become scared and confused when a fire erupts.    

Carbon monoxide alarms are also critically important safety equipment in the home. Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. This poisonous gas can come from a variety of sources and can quickly incapacitate and kill its victims. 

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year, unless they are powered by sealed ten-year batteries. Carbon monoxide alarms should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly.

Michigan’s Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Task Force is a statewide program that is working to reduce fire fatalities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state. More information can be found here.

The CRR Task Force is comprised of more than 70 members from fire departments across the state, the Bureau of Fire Services staff, and representatives from Michigan Fire Service organizations, the American Red Cross-Michigan Chapter, and support of the NFPA.

For more information on smoke alarms and safety tips, visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org/smokealarms.

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