NASHVILLE - With the loss of 11 lives to residential structure fires since Feb. 28, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is encouraging all Tennesseans to change their smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks Saturday night for daylight saving time.
“Alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they’re providing the proper protection,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is currently investigating the nine home fire deaths that have occurred across Tennessee since Saturday. Several of these fires occurred at night or early morning while the victims were 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.
In the United States, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no working smoke alarms. It is critical to install smoke alarms and replace batteries regularly. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces 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.
Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:
· Smoke alarms should be installed in every room where an occupant sleeps, outside every sleeping area and on each level of the home, including the basement. 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.
· Dust or vacuum your smoke alarms whenever the battery is changed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the Internet.
· Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, and be sure to teach it to 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.
· Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
· 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.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is on a mission to prevent fire deaths in Tennessee. Part of this mission includes a statewide smoke alarm program aimed at equipping high-risk homes across the state with 10-year battery smoke alarms. You can find out more about this important program at http://tn.gov/fire/getalarmed.shtml.
For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s Office home fire safety checklist (http://tn.gov/fire/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf).
The State Fire Marshal’s Office (www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm/) is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance (www.tn.gov/commerce/), which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube)