State Fire Marshal: Check Smoke Alarms When Changing Clocks this Weekend

Friday, March 10, 2017 | 3:30pm

NASHVILLE – The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans to take the time to check their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when setting clocks forward one hour this Sunday night, March 12, 2017.

“As Daylight Saving Time begins, we encourage citizens to change the batteries in their smoke alarms if necessary and check the age of these important devices,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Any smoke alarm 10 years old or older should be replaced entirely as it may not function properly in the event of an emergency.”

Smoke alarms more than 10 years old no longer offer a reliable level of safety and are often the source for nuisance alarms. The SFMO urges all residents to determine how old their smoke alarms are (the date of manufacture is located on the back of the alarm). If they’re 10 years old or older, they should be replaced immediately. This includes smoke alarms that use 10-year batteries and/or are hard-wired.

State fire data indicates that 70 percent of Tennessee residential structure fires in 2016 occurred in homes where no smoke alarm was known to have been present. In addition, 46 percent of smoke alarm failures during that period were due to missing or dead batteries in the device.

Both state and national data reflect that many fatal fires occur at night while the victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.

 The SFMO shares the following safety tips on residential smoke alarms:

  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.                                                 
  • For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms. Interconnect the alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.                                                       
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year (preferably twice a year during daylight saving time). If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
  • Remember, even alarms that are hard-wired into your home electrical system need to have their battery back-ups maintained in case of electrical power outage.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
  • Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or fails to sound when tested.
  • Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 911.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist. Tennessee residents can request a free smoke alarm by visiting www.tn.gov/fire.

###