Ford recommends changing batteries annually in emergency devices
Cooler weather is here, which means people will be turning on their heaters for the first time since last winter.
Will the dust that might have accumulated on a home’s heating coils while it was dormant over the summer cause the home’s smoke alarm to screech to life?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a house fire in half. Three out of five fire deaths resulted from fires taking place in homes with no working smoke alarms, according to a press release.
The new year is a good time to remind residents to check the smoke alarms in their home and change the battery in smoke alarms that use them, Ted Ford, fire marshal for the Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department, said during an interview. Another milestone residents can use to remind them to change the battery is Fire Prevention Week, which takes place nationally in October. In 2017, it will take place Oct. 8-14, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International website: www.esfi.org.
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years; batteries should be replaced every year, Mr. Ford said. He said people should invest in good batteries for the devices, which could save lives and property, and avoid using rechargeable batteries.
“I don’t think rechargeable batteries last as long. They may lose strength over the year,” Mr. Ford said.
The town of Queen Creek is fortunate in that its residents have not had any major fires that were detected by a smoke alarm, Mr. Ford said. He said a garage fire occurred about a year and a half ago and the smoke alarm detected smoke that had penetrated the home.
That fire is still under investigation, he said.
There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home, Mr. Ford said.
Battery-operated smoke alarms are most commonly found in older homes and in mobile residences such as RVs, Mr. Ford said. Newer homes have photo-electric alarms. Electric smoke alarms should be interconnected so that one alarm will also set off the others.
Smoke alarms should be tested monthly by pushing a button. Mr. Ford said he uses a long broom handle to reach smoke alarm units installed high up on walls or ceilings. A green light means the unit is operating at full strength.
Residents may also want to clean their smoke alarm as dust can settle inside. Mr. Ford recommended cleaning it with a vacuum or a gentle spray of compressed, canned air.
The town of Queen Creek released the following tips and facts to help residents prepare their smoke alarms for the new year:
•Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
•Smoke alarms should not be installed near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
•Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from cooking appliances.
•Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home – when one sounds, they all do.
•Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
•Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to last up to 10 years.
•For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace the batteries at least once per year.
•Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly; look on the back of the alarm for the date of manufacture.
Smoke alarms may chirp for a variety of reasons
•Loose or improperly installed battery – verify the recommended type of battery is being used, that it is working, securely installed and the battery door is completely closed.
•Sensing chamber may be dirty – clean the interior of the alarm using compressed air or a vacuum. Clean the exterior of the alarm with a damp cloth and test the alarm after cleaning.
•Batteries or smoke alarm need to be replaced – the batteries or entire unit may need to be replaced if none of the tips above resolve the solution.
Make a plan
•Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
•If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Go to your outside meeting place.
•Call 9-1-1 from outside the home.
For more information about the Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department, visit QueenCreek.org/fire. To receive additional information about smoke alarms, visit NFPA.org.