Spring forward into fire safety
The switch to Daylight Savings Time marks the arrival of longer days and the promise of spring.
It is also the perfect time to do a couple of small chores that may potentially save your life.
“As we prepare to ‘spring ahead’ our clocks, take a moment to test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and change the batteries, too,” said Krista Barton, public fire and life safety educator for the Township of Langley. “Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarm, or no working smoke alarm. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.”
Smoke alarms have the power to save lives - but only if they are functioning properly. The devices need to be replaced every ten years and the batteries have to be checked and replaced regularly.
Using the “spring forward” rule for clocks during the switch to Daylight Savings Time, which happens this year in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 10, is the perfect reminder to do just that.
“If you haven’t tested your smoke alarm lately, it may not be working and that is a risk you can’t afford to take,” Barton said. “Working smoke alarms give us early warning of a fire, providing extra time to escape safely. But they can’t do their job if we haven’t done ours,” she said, adding that alarms should be tested monthly to make sure the devices and batteries inside are working. “Test all the smoke alarms in your home, so you will know they are ready to protect you and your family if there is a fire.”
The Township of Langley Fire Department also recommends installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms – and replacing them every seven years.
“Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odorless gas. Inhaling even small amounts of it can be harmful to your health, even deadly,” Barton cautioned. “You can’t smell or taste CO, so watch for warning signs of CO in your home, maintain and use fuel-burning appliances correctly, and know what to do if you suspect CO in your home.”
Warning signs of CO poisoning include unexplained headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, stumbling, and fainting. Children, elderly people, and those with chronic disease may be more susceptible to CO poisoning.
“If you suspect CO in your home, open all the doors and windows, turn off any suspect appliances, leave the house and get everyone into fresh air immediately. Call 911 and seek medical attention if necessary,” Barton said. “Get your gas utility company to check the carbon monoxide levels and have a licensed gas contractor inspect your appliances.”
• Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
• For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.
• An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.
• Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet (three meters) from a cooking appliance.
• Replace all smoke alarms when they are ten years old.
• Install CO alarms where you can hear them while sleeping, near bedrooms on each floor of the home.
• Place the alarm at least 4.5 meters away from sources of heat or humidity such as furnaces and vents, bathrooms, and cooking appliances.
• To prevent false alarms, don’t install the alarm in an attached garage or carport or near the door from the house to the garage.
• Test your CO alarm at least twice a year.
• Replace the batteries annually.
• Replace CO alarms every seven years or according to the date on the alarm or box.