On Sunday, Nov. 1, when Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. and you turn your clocks back one hour, the Iowa City Fire Department reminds you to also change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Just this one little thing can help protect you and your family by reducing injuries or fatalities in the event of a fire.
There are two kinds of smoke alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use both types of alarms in the home. Special alarms that signal with strobe lights and bed shakers are available for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Some smoke detectors feature a 10-year battery in a sealed unit. These smoke detectors do not need battery changes twice a year, but should be replaced at the end of their 10-year lifespan.
Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or high on a wall on every level of the home, including the basement. A smoke alarm should be installed inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. In the kitchen, position the alarms at least 10 feet away from the stove to reduce false alarms.
Another life-saving device to check this time of year is your carbon monoxide detector, which signals high levels of carbon monoxide from malfunctioning gas or oil furnaces, gas appliances, and wood burning stoves or fireplaces. Batteries in carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced twice a year. Because the sensors inside carbon monoxide detectors have a limited life, the entire unit should be replaced every five years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding replacement.
In addition to installing the proper number of smoke detectors, changing the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, and replacing alarms and detectors when they’ve reached the end of their operational life, the Fire Department recommends that you vacuum around the outside of the alarm to remove dust particles and small bugs that could impact the unit's effectiveness, and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at least once a month by pushing the test button.
Now is also a good time to develop a fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room in the house. Your plan should indicate where family members should meet outside in case the family has to evacuate the home. Also prepare a home safety kit that includes a working flashlight and extra flashlight batteries, and review and practice the fire escape plan with the entire family.
For more fire safety information, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at www.nfpa.org. Additional questions may be directed to Fire Marshal Brian Greer at 319-356-5260.