Halloween weekend wasn’t all about candy, costumes and carousing.
Because it was also the weekend when we move from daylight saving time to standard time, Durango Fire Protection District said it’s also a good time to change batteries in smoke alarms.
“We recommend changing the batteries on these units twice a year – spring and fall time changes are a good reminder,” the district said in a news release. “In addition, smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years.”
The district said sensors degrade about 5 percent per year, so that effectiveness has decreased by 50 percent over the course of a decade.
“If you do not know how old your smoke alarms are,” the district said, “now is a good time to replace them. The good news is new smoke alarms are being produced with 10-year nonreplaceable batteries. This means no more biannual battery changes.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Three out of five deaths in residential fires take place on properties that either do not have smoke alarms or do not have working smoke alarms.
About 37 percent of deaths in home fires occur because there is no smoke alarm present.
Installing smoke alarms cuts the odds of dying in a house fire in half.
But those are national numbers. DFPD Fire Marshal Karola Hanks said she was recently pulling statistics on fires the district had responded to from 2010 to 2015 and happened to notice something.
“Out of every three fires,” she said, “one has a smoke alarm that is working, one does not have a smoke alarm, and one has a smoke alarm that’s not working. And it’s something so fundamental.”
Between battery changes, smoke alarms should be tested monthly.
“If you have children living with you, that test should be accompanied by a fire-drill, evacuation and re-grouping at your family’s ‘safe meeting place,’” said Scot Davis, DFPD community education coordinator. “Remember, everyone should ‘get low and go’ when practicing a fire drill. This includes adults modeling safe evacuation behavior.”
Every bedroom should have a working smoke alarm, Hanks said, and, if a home uses any kind of heating that uses combustibles such as gas-burning forced air, pellet or wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, every bedroom should have a carbon-monoxide detector.
“Carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous,” she said. Since carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, it can only be measured with special detectors.