Written by Phil Cerroni
As most Americans set their clocks back one hour, the Coppell Fire Department wants homeowners to "change your clocks and change your batteries" on Sunday, November 4.
"Fresh batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can help provide the extra seconds needed to save a life," Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson said.
Eighty four percent of all civilian fire deaths occurred residential and building fires, according to the United States Fire Administration's 2009 statistics. Ninety-six percent of all homes have at least one smoke alarm. However, only three-quarters of all U.S. homes have at least one working smoke alarm, meaning that one-quarter of all U.S. homes do not have an operating smoke alarm.
Statistics also say that somewhere in the United States, a fatal home fire occurs every three hours.
"The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when most families are asleep," Chief Richardson said. “Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths.”
In addition, Chief Richardson recommends residents not only use the "extra" hour they save from the time change to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and to plan and practice escape routes, but also make sure fellow neighbors and community members do the same. Families should also prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries.
Homes should also have carbon monoxide detectors and the batteries should be changed during the same time. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning cause symptoms similar to those of the flu or a cold. Higher levels of poisoning lead to dizziness, mental confusion and severe headache among other issues.
Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alert before the exposure to carbon monoxide would present a hazard to a healthy adult. Experts recommend that every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector.
Now is also a good time to test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector by following the manufacturers' instructions for testing. Smoke alarms can be 'cleaned' by vacuuming them monthly or utilizing compressed air following the manufacturer instructions. Smoke alarms should be replaced after ten years of service.
Source: City of Coppell