With daylight saving time beginning on Sunday, people are getting ready to change their clocks and spring forward an hour.
Fire officials advise to also use this time to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are really important safety products,” Southold Fire Chief Jim Rich said this week. “If you do it twice a year it prevents it from going off when you don’t want it to and you’ll know it works when you absolutely need it. If they work, they save lives.”
According to research done by the National Fire Protection Association, three of every five home fire deaths occur when the smoke alarm isn’t working. Many of those failures are caused by dead or missing batteries, the NFPA said.
In order to make sure the detectors are working correctly the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York urges homeowners to replace batteries in smoke alarms with a removable battery, test alarms that have sealed-in batteries and replace alarms that are over 10 years old.
Chief Rich explained that many detectors have a 10-year shelf life, but during those 10 years they run off of direct AC current from your house as well as a DC battery backup. That backup battery wears down over time, he said, thus causing it to either go off when no smoke is detected or simply die, and thus not able to alert residents when there is a problem in their home.
Other tips from FASNY include: testing alarms once a month using the test button; blow out any dust accumulating in your alarms; don’t paint over a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm; don’t borrow batteries from one alarm to use in another; always make sure your family has and practices a home fire escape plan.
Chief Rich said that the twice annual testing of detectors doesn’t necessarily have to occur on Daylight Savings. Second homeowners, for example, could choose to test on the Fourth of July and Christmas if that’s easier for them to remember.
“People use Daylight Savings as a reminder to twice a year check their smoke detectors,” he said. “They’re very important. If you’re asleep and have a fire you could be dead before you know it.”