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Fall back into safety - change your clocks, check your smoke alarms


Mon, Oct 25th 2021 12:50 pm

FASNY reminds New Yorkers to inspect their smoke & CO alarms, as busiest time of the year for fires is approaching

Guest Editorial by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York

As New Yorkers prepare for the end of Daylight Saving Time, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is reminding all New Yorkers to check the batteries and test their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Alarms equipped with removable batteries should have their batteries replaced. 

In 2019, New York state led the nation in home fire deaths with a tragic 126 fatalities. The number has since decreased, but is still high – 77 civilians in New York have died in home fires during 2021. The upcoming winter season is typically the busiest time of year for home fires.

Working smoke alarms save lives. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), three of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms or in homes lacking smoke alarms. A quarter of all smoke alarm failures are caused by dead batteries. 

“Every second counts in a fire. Smoke alarms provide a critical warning that can help people escape during an emergency – but only if they are working properly,” FASNY President John P. Farrell said. “All smoke alarms should be tested monthly. If your smoke alarm has removable batteries, make sure you change them twice a year to ensure that they are functioning.

The reduction in home fire deaths in recent years may be attributed to a New York state law that went into effect in 2019. It banned the sale of smoke alarms with removable batteries. Newly installed or replacement smoke alarms in the state of New York must be powered by a 10-year, sealed, nonremovable battery, or hardwired to the home. Smoke alarms equipped with sealed-in, nonremovable batteries are nearly impossible to disable and require little maintenance. If you’re not sure when you last replaced the batteries, or bought a smoke alarm, FASNY encourages you to purchase a new one with 10-year batteries.

“Having a sufficient number of properly located smoke and CO alarms is essential to maximize the amount of escape time. As a minimum, smoke alarms should be installed inside every bedroom and on every level of the home. Larger homes require additional smoke alarms.”

Smoke Alarm Tips from FASNY and NFPA

√ Test alarms at least once a month by using the test button. 

√ If you have an alarm with a removable battery, be sure to check the batteries every six months, and change the batteries every year. If a battery is starting to lose its power, the unit will usually chirp to warn you. Do not disable the unit. 

√ Vacuum or blow out any dust that might accumulate in the unit. 

√ Never borrow a battery from an alarm to use somewhere else.

√ Never paint a smoke or CO alarm. 

√ Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement, and in, or near each sleeping area.

√ Smoke alarms should not be installed near a window, because drafts could interfere with their operation.

√ Families should also develop and practice a home fire escape plan. 

√ Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing smoke alarms and replacing the batteries.

For more information on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and other information on fire safety and prevention, visit www.fasny.com and www.nfpa.org.

Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of 85,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York state. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.

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