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State Fire Marshal’s Office: Check smoke alarm batteries ahead of winter storm

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 | 07:45am

NASHVILLE – As Tennesseans stock up on food and supplies ahead of more potentially harsh winter weather this week, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans to also change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Oftentimes, homeowners don’t know how old their smoke alarms are, or if they’re still functioning properly. That lack of awareness can have deadly consequences: Nearly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. 

“Alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they are providing the proper protection,” said Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Any smoke alarm that is 10 years old or older should be replaced entirely.”

Smoke alarms more than 10 years old no longer offer a reliable level of safety and are often the source for nuisance alarms. The State Fire Marshal’s Office 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.  

It is critical to install smoke alarms and replace batteries regularly. Smoke alarms containing traditional batteries should be replaced twice a year, reducing the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries. All too often, a battery is removed and not replaced, putting a home’s occupants at risk. There’s no way to predict when a fire will occur, so even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous. 

Remember:

Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement. 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.

Install smoke alarms away from the kitchen to prevent nuisance alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance.

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.

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 doesn't work properly when tested.

Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a common 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 (http://www.tn.gov/fire/documents/HomeFireSafetyChecklist.pdf).

TDCI also wants homeowners to be cautious of price gouging during emergency situations. Learn more about Tennessee’s price gouging laws here and protect yourself.

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