Not too late to check home smoke alarms

When setting clocks back an hour this past weekend for the end of daylight savings time, did you adopt the life-saving habit of also changing the smoke alarm batteries? It not too late.

“The foam cushions, synthetic fabrics and plastics in household furnishings today produce more heat, more thick dark smoke, and more fire gases than in the past. Early warning of a fire improves the ability for your family to quickly exit your home,” Michigan State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer said. “There needs to be a smoke alarm on every level of your home including the basement and a smoke alarm in every bedroom or sleeping area.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71 percent of smoke alarm failures are a result of missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Never remove or disconnect batteries from detectors unless you are putting a new battery in the smoke alarm.

Check each smoke alarm monthly to ensure that it works. If you hear a chirp noise coming from a smoke alarm, it is most likely a warning of a low battery. Three of every five residential fire deaths in the United States occur in homes with smoke alarms with batteries removed or with dead batteries or no smoke alarms present.

Last year, residential structure fires in Michigan killed 96 citizens and, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, Michigan fire departments responded to 14,106 residential structure fires in 2017. So far in 2018, 100 civilians have died in residential structure fires and there have been 9,968 residential structure fires across Michigan.

The state fire marshal, along with the NFPA, recommend:

— Testing smoke alarms monthly using the test button.

— Replacing batteries twice a year or when the smoke alarm begins to chirp, signaling that the battery is running low.

— Making sure you have a smoke alarm in every bedroom or sleeping area and have one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement.

— For added protection, consider an interconnect smoke alarm system, so when one smoke alarm sounds all the smoke alarms sound in the whole home.

— Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.

— Newer smoke alarms come with lithium batteries that can last up to 10 years.

— Every 10 years, replace all your smoke alarms — sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

— Choose alarms that bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.