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Change Your Clock, Check Your Smoke Alarm

State Fire MarshalShane Ray is reminding South Carolinians to check their smoke alarm batteries when changing their clocks for Daylight Savings Time Sunday, March 11, 2012.

“While moving your clock ahead one hour, take a few minutes to also check, test and clean your smoke alarm to make sure it is functioning properly,” Zubia said.

Properly working smoke alarms can double the chances of survival. Many homes have smoke alarms with 9-volt batteries that should be replaced once a year (or as needed). The National Fire Protection Association suggests that 90 percent of American homes are equipped with smoke alarms, but more than 50 percent of them are not in working condition.

Manufacturer’s guidelines for smoke alarm installation, testing, cleaning and replacing batteries should be followed. The following general recommendations should also be followed:

  • Install smoke alarms in the home. An alarm located between the sleeping area and the living area offers a minimum amount of protection. For maximum protection, install an alarm in every room, on every level of the home. New home construction requires having all smoke alarms interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.

  • Replace smoke alarms as needed. These alarms lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced. The lifespan of an alarm is 10 years. At least once a month, press the test button to check your alarm. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the batteries. If this doesn’t solve the problem, replace the unit.

  • Clean smoke alarms periodically using a vacuum attachment. This removes particles that could interfere with proper operation.

  • Investigate a “chirping” sound. This indicates that the batteries are weak and should be replaced.

“Having working smoke alarms is not the total answer in making your home fire safe,” Zubia said. “Citizens should also practice general fire safety behaviors such as practicing emergency exit plans.

“With today’s modern technology, many people are also taking advantage of residential sprinkler systems. These systems are designed to put the fire out before it can become a problem and is a relatively inexpensive way to provide an even greater safety environment for a family.”

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Jonathan Jones,   State Fire Marshal
141 Monticello Trail, Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 896-9800 | Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Monday - Friday except State Holidays