March 10, 2013

Change smoke-, carbon-monoxide-detector batteries


---- — PLATTSBURGH — If you didn’t change the batteries in your smoke- and carbon-monoxide detectors when you moved your clock ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time, today is still a good time to do it.

Batteries in the devices should be changed at least once each year to ensure they are in good working order, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York says.

“It is critical that all homeowners change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend,” said association President Jim Burns in a press release. “Smoke detectors are the first line of defense against the deadly effects of fire.”

Every year, about 2,600 Americans die in house fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

More than half of those deaths occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., when residents are typically sleeping, the release said. And the risk of dying in a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in one without them.


Here are some safety tips from the Firemen’s Association and the National Fire Protection Association:

▶ Install a smoke alarm and carbon-monoxide detector near sleeping areas and on every level of the home, including the basement.

▶ Test smoke alarms and detectors at least once a month by using detectors’ test button.

▶ Clean the units by vacuuming or dusting according to manufacturer’s instructions.

▶ Install new batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors at least once a year, on the day you change your clocks in the spring or fall.

▶ Do not paint smoke alarms or carbon-monoxide detectors.

▶ Because smoke rises, alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings.

▶ Smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors should not be installed near a window, door or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with their operation.

▶ Read the detector’s packaging and instructions to understand the difference between a true emergency and a simple maintenance issue of a dead battery or an expired detector, as the unit may emit different sounds for each situation. 

▶ If it is a real activation, call 911 and evacuate immediately.

▶ To avoid potential carbon-monoxide exposure, do not warm a vehicle in an enclosed garage space. During and after a snowstorm, make sure all vents connected to stoves, furnaces and fireplaces leading outside are clear.

As well, the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross in Morrisonville says to check your detectors in the workplace.

And, a press release said, this is a good time to update the emergency contact information in your family communications plan.

“Choose an out-of-area emergency contact that each person in your family can call if he/she becomes separated during a disaster situation,” the Red Cross says.

Also, take a look at your disaster-supplies kit to make sure it still has at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food items and enough water for a gallon per person per day, along with a flashlight, battery-powered or crank radio, can opener, first-aid kit, copies of important documents, and vital items such as medications, diapers and infant formula.

“If there have been changes in prescriptions or dietary needs, add new foods and medications as needed,” the release said.

With spring coming, the Red Cross said, make seasonal changes in the kit, for example, switching out warmer bedding and clothing for cooler garb and adding such items as insect repellent and sunscreen lotion.

“You may even choose to add a small battery-powered fan,” the release said.

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