As Alabamians prepare to spring forward, Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen encourages everyone to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors while changing their clocks.
“It only takes five minutes to potentially save a life,” Pilgreen said. “Working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are critical to keeping Alabamians safe in case of an emergency.”
Smoke detector safety
Smoke detectors should be placed on each level of a home, and inside every bedroom, located on a ceiling or high on a wall. Smoke in one area of the home may not reach another part of the home, which is why having multiple alarms is important.
If possible, get interconnected smoke detectors. That way if one alarm sounds, they all sound. Strobe light alarms are available for those with hearing impairment. In addition to changing the batteries when the time changes, test smoke detectors once a month by pressing the “test” button on the device.
Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years or sooner if the device doesn’t respond properly during monthly testing. The alarm’s manufacturing date is usually found on the back or side of the unit. If you’re not sure how old a smoke detector is, replace it.
Carbon monoxide safety
Known as an invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal. It is a byproduct of burning fuel from cars, stoves, engines, generators and grills but becomes deadly when it builds up indoors with no place to go.
More than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, vomiting, confusion and chest pain. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each level of the home, in all the major living quarters and outside sleeping areas.
Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors should be tested monthly and replaced if they don’t respond properly. The life expectancy of models varies by brand, so check the instructions on your unit to determine when it’s time to replace it.
If a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave the residence quickly and call 911 or your local fire department. Do not go back inside for anything.
For more fire safety tips, visit www.firemarshal.alabama.gov.