Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman would like to remind Tennesseans to "Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries" this Sunday for Central Standard Time.
Most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause you to sleep more deeply, making the chances of survival worse. A working smoke alarm will double your survival chances by giving you the critical time needed to escape before it's too late.
Nationally, more than 90 percent of all homes have smoke alarms, but it is estimated that one-third of them don't work due to old or missing batteries. It is critical to replace batteries regularly—even if they appear to be working fine. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces the "chirping", indicating low batteries. All too often, the battery is removed and not replaced, putting the occupants at risk. There's no way to predict when a fire will occur, and one night without a working smoke alarm is dangerous. Replacing batteries during daylight savings time is an easy way to remember that task.
Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:
• Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
• Smoke alarms need to be cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.
• Have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and teach it to your children.
• When the smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place.
"Smoke alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly, and be tested monthly to ensure you have the protection you need when you need it," says Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman. "Use the extra hour when we fall back to make sure your home and family are fire safe."
Many local fire departments have supplies of donated smoke alarms, and departments will help install them in the homes of the elderly and disabled. For more information, visit www.tennessee.gov/commerce.