Fire Captain Julie Hutchinson
Public Affairs Bureau
||Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery: Fire Safety Begins With You
On Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 2:00 A.M., daylight savings time will begin and all of the clocks in your home will need to be set forward by one hour. During this time of the year, it is also necessary to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and ensure that they are working properly.
Within the past three months, the CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department has responded to three fire fatalities, one each in Blythe, Lake Elsinore, and Perris. In each case, fire investigators found that no smoke detectors were present. Fire Chief John Hawkins stated that, ¿The recent fire fatalities are tragic, and unfortunately they remind us of how important it is to be fire safe in our homes. Smoke detectors can make the difference between you and your loved ones getting out of your home safely or not. Let¿s be smart, let¿s be safe, install a smoke detector in your home if you have not already done so, and properly maintain the ones you already have.¿
According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2004:
Roughly, half of home fire deaths result from fires in the small percentage of homes without smoke detectors.
Homes with smoke detectors typically have a death rate that is 40-50% less than the rate of homes without detectors.
Smoke detectors fail because of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.
The CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department recommends the following Safety Tips:
Test your smoke detectors once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
Replace the batteries in your smoke detector once a year, or as soon as the detector "chirps" warning that the battery is low. Hint: schedule battery replacements for the same day you change your clocks from daylight savings time begins and ends. Our department recommends that you change your clocks twice a year.
Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke detector. Smoke detectors cannot warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected.
Do not disable smoke detectors even temporarily. If your smoke detector is sounding "nuisance detectors," try relocating it farther from kitchens or bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the detector to sound.
Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke detectors, following the manufacturer's instructions, can keep them working properly.
Smoke detectors do not last forever. Replace yours once every 10 years. If you cannot remember how old the detector is, then it is probably time for a new one.
Plan regular fire drills to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke detector sounds. Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at the sound of the detector. Some studies have shown that some children may not awaken to the sound of the smoke detector. Know what your child will do before a fire occurs.
If you are building a new home or remodeling your existing home, consider installing an automatic home fire sprinkler system. Sprinklers and smoke detectors together cut your risk of dying in a home fire 82 percent relative to having neither ¿ a savings of thousands of lives a year.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your smoke detectors, please contact our local fire station or visit www.rvcfire.org. Please follow the proper safety techniques to help keep you, your family, and your home fire safe.