By Wayne Allen
When you spring forward your clocks this weekend for daylight savings time, state and local officials are expressing the importance of also checking the batteries in smoke detectors.
“Last year (2013) marked the lowest number of fire-related deaths in Ohio in 27 years,” said State Fire Marshall Larry Flowers in a released statement. “But this is not ‘Mission Accomplished.’ This year I’m challenging Ohioans to protect their homes and families through the simple act of changing out their smoke alarms’ batteries. We know that working smoke alarms and a well-practiced escape plan with two ways out save lives.”
Flowers said firefighters still find that smoke alarms are often not present in homes or are not functional. Data shows that in an overwhelming majority of incidents where there was a fatality,there was no evidence of a working smoke alarms.
Assistant Chief Randy Duncan of the Portsmouth Fire Department said they see homes throughout the city that does not have any smoke detectors.
“The city of Portsmouth has an ordinance requiring all residential properties to have smoke detectors,” Duncan said.
Duncan said most of the homes in the city the department encounters that do not have smoke detectors are often rental homes.
“Smoke alarms, when properly installed and maintained, provide early warning when fire occurs. For the greatest protection, install a smoke detector on every level of your home and inside each sleeping area. Also, develop an escape plan with two ways out and make sure every family member knows what to do and where to meet outside if the fire alarm sounds,” Flowers said in a released statement.
Flowers also advised people to test smoke alarms at least once each month to ensure that they are working properly. Vacuum the dust from inside the detector at least once every year. Never “borrow” a smoke detector’s battery for another use. Change batteries twice a year or if a detector “chirps” to signal low battery power. If you have a smoke alarm with a built-in 10-year battery, and it was installed before Feb. 28, 2004, completely replace the unit this weekend.
For more information about smoke alarms and fire safety tips, visit www.com.ohio.gov/fire.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.