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Change your clocks, smoke alarm batteries on Sunday

• Nov 4, 2017 at 6:00 PM

As you set clocks back one hour and “fall back” to daylight saving time this weekend, adopt the life-saving habit of also changing the batteries in your smoke alarms, the state fire marshal says.

Eastern standard time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5.

“The foam cushions and synesthetic fabrics in household furnishings today produce more heat, thick dark smoke and fire gases than in the past. Early warning by working smoke alarms in your home, improves the ability for your family to get an early warning of a fire and quickly exit your home," said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “There should be a smoke alarm on every level of the home including your basement and in every bedroom (sleeping area). Sunday when you change your clock change the batteries in your smoke alarms.”

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. Check your smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they are in working order. If you hear a chirping noise it is likely a warning of a low battery.

Three of every five home fire deaths in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Last year, home fires in Michigan killed 91 citizens, and according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), fire departments throughout the state responded to 12,063 home fires in 2016. So far in 2017, there’s a reported total through NFIRS of 61 civilian residential fire fatalities and 9,122 residential fires in Michigan.

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

Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button.

Replace batteries once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.

Equip your home with multiple smoke alarms in all the bedrooms, outside of each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement.

For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.

Buy newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit.

Replace all smoke alarms at least every 10 years, 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

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, 10-year batteries. Carbon monoxide alarms should be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly.

Sehlmeyer emphasized the importance of having a home fire escape plan. He urged families to “Plan Two Ways Out” and practice with all family members and people living in the residence at least twice a year. Fire is unpredictable and in less than three minutes, a home could be totally engulfed in flames; every family member should know two ways out and react quickly and calmly.

For information on smoke alarms and safety tips, visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org/smokealarms. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs for more fire safety information.

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