For Immediate Release - March 07, 2014

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries This Sunday

Check on Elderly Relatives and Neighbors Too

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan reminds us that when we change our clocks this Sunday, March 9 we should also change the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. “We have had 12 fire deaths so far in 2014, and the one common thread between them is the lack of working smoke alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Coan.

Check on Elderly Relatives and Neighbors Too

“Please take a moment to make sure your own alarms are working, and then check on the ones in the home of a parent, grandparent or older neighbor,” Coan said. Eight of the 12 people who have died in fires so far in 2014 were over age 65; in 2013, seniors accounted for 42% of the fire deaths.

Replace Aging Alarms

“While you’re changing the batteries, take a minute to check on the age of the alarm too,” said Coan. Smoke alarms last for ten years, but carbon monoxide alarms are generally only good for 5-7 years, depending on the make and model. Only recently have models come on the market with 10-year lithium batteries. An out-of-date alarm cannot be counted on to provide the needed early warning of danger.

Beat the Beep

Carbon monoxide alarms give a series of three quick beeps to alert us to danger, but they have a single low battery chirp just like smoke alarms. Many CO alarms installed in 2006 as a result of the law first requiring them, have now reached the end of their useful lives and need to be replaced so that people will continue to be protected. One of the signs that the CO alarm needs to be replaced is if it gives the low battery chirp even after new batteries are installed. Coan said, “If this happens then you haven’t ‘beaten the beep’.” Fire departments across the state are responding to many incidents where aging CO alarms need to be replaced, not just the batteries. Coan warned, “Don’t ever confuse the low battery chirp with the alarm of danger from either a smoke or CO alarm; get outside fast.”