State fire commissioner: Don’t forget to change your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors this weekend
HARRISBURG — A reminder from Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego: When you change your clocks this weekend for Daylight Saving Time, it’s an excellent time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, too.
“Having a functional smoke alarm is the simplest, most effective way to ensure you and your family’s safety in the event of a home fire,” said Trego in a press release. “All too often, these critical life-saving devices are overlooked or ignored until it’s too late. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries regularly. Our favorite way to remind ourselves to change batteries is to make it part of our time-change routine.”
Trego said discharged or missing batteries are the most common cause of a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector malfunction. When functioning, smoke alarms can decrease the risk of dying in a home fire by as much as half.
From the moment an alarm sounds, occupants may have as few as two minutes to safely exit the building, Trego said.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that can incapacitate victims before they’re aware they’ve been exposed, which is why it is sometimes called “the silent killer.” Common sources of carbon monoxide include wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, gas-fired fireplaces, grills, generators, and motor vehicles.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.
Newer models of smoke alarms marketed as having long-lasting batteries may not need to have their batteries replaced, but thousands of homeowners still use models that use standard batteries that must be replaced regularly.
No matter what type of smoke alarms are used in a home, they should be tested monthly – including hard-wired units connected to the home’s electrical system. Homeowners unsure of how to maintain or install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can call their local fire service for advice.