As we set our clocks back this weekend for the end of Daylight Savings Time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a host of other officials are encouraging everyone in St. Lawrence County to also take a few minutes to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and change their batteries.
Daylight Savings Time expires at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, and we revert to Eastern Standard Time by “falling back,” or setting our clocks back by one hour.
Officials of emergency agencies have adopted the changing of clocks as a good time to remind people to change the batteries in their alarms, to be certain that their protection is available.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2005-2009 approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths involved properties without working smoke alarms. Many fire departments throughout New York State continue to respond to calls in homes each year where there is no working smoke alarm present. Properly functioning smoke alarms are essential in saving lives from fire.
Meanwhile, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane or oil) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. According to the NFPA, from 2006-2010, an estimated 72,000 non-fire carbon monoxide incidents were reported to U.S. fire departments each year and these incidents have been increasing over time. Carbon monoxide incidents are most common during the peak home heating season, November through February.
Jerome M. Hauer, Commissioner, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services said, “You may have as little as three minutes to get out of your home or apartment before a fire becomes deadly. Working smoke alarms provide early warning of a fire and can provide extra time to escape safely. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, however, may not do their job if homeowners and renters don’t test them regularly and change the batteries to make sure that they are working properly.”
Bryant D. Stevens, New York State Fire Administrator said, “Although a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector greatly increases your chances of surviving, only half of those who own smoke or carbon monoxide alarms say that they take the time to check it regularly.”
The following steps are recommended to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones:
· Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
· Interconnect all smoke alarms and CO alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
· Replace all smoke and CO alarms every ten years or according to manufacturer’s recommendations, especially if they do not respond properly when tested.
· Test all smoke and CO alarms at least once a month.
· If you or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration or sound.
· Recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
· Choose a smoke and CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
· If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrives.
· Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
· During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
· Generators should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
· Only use gas or charcoal grills outdoors.
For more information on smoke and CO alarms and other home fire safety tips, visit the Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s website at www.dhses.ny.gov/OFPC