Fire Officials Ask People to Change Your Clock, Check Your Alarms

STOW, MAMost fatal fires occur at night when you are sleeping. Working smoke alarms give us the extra time to get out of a burning house. This weekend, as you change your clocks, check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.

“The pandemic is keeping people at home. Most children are learning at home, people are working from home and doing more cooking. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and working smoke alarms are key to surviving a fire. This weekend is a good time of year to replace regular batteries in your alarms, to test them, and to check for their birthdates. If they are more than 10- years old, replace the entire alarm,” he added.

Replace Aging Smoke Alarms
“Smoke alarms, like other household appliances, don’t last forever,” said Chief Michael Newbury, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts. “Every ten years the entire alarm needs to be replaced, not just the batteries,” he added. “Prevent that annoying chirp of a dying smoke alarm by regularly replacing batteries and testing the alarms,” said Newbury. Carbon monoxide alarms usually need to be replaced after 5-7 years.

Replacement Alarms Should be Photoelectric With 10-year Sealed Batteries
The State Fire Code requires replacing expired battery-operated smoke alarms in older one- and two-family homes with photoelectric ones that have 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable batteries and a hush feature. Ostroskey said, “Fire officials hope that if we make smoke alarms easier for people to maintain, they will take care of them. We see too many disabled smoke alarms in fires when people really needed them to work.”

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Time Is Your Enemy in a Fire
“Time is your enemy in a fire. Working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible,” said Ostroskey. “Remember: smoke alarms are a sound you can live with.”

Newbury said, “No one expects to be a victim of a fire, but the best way to survive one that does occur is to have working smoke alarms and a practiced home escape plan.” In the average house fire, there are only 1-3 minutes to escape after the smoke alarm sounds. He added, “Take a few minutes to protect those you love by changing the batteries in your smoke alarms this weekend.”

Senior SAFE
Two hundred forty-eight (248) fire departments across the state have grant-funded Senior SAFE Programs. Seniors who need help testing, maintaining or replacing smoke alarms should contact their local fire department or senior center for assistance. Ostroskey said, “Almost half of the people who died in fires last year were over 65. We want our seniors to be safe from fire in their own homes.”

For more information on smoke alarms or the Senior SAFE Program, please go to www.mass.gov/dfs or contact your local fire department.

Halloween Safety during the Pandemic
Halloween activities can be fun but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading Covid-19. Check with your local government to find out what activities will be allowed and read the advice from the Mass. Department of Public Healthon celebrating Halloween during the pandemic.