State Fire Marshal: 'Be Alarmed! Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries'

State Fire Marshal: ‘Be Alarmed! Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries’

The Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds Illinoisans to test and replace the batteries in their smoke alarms as daylight saving time begins this weekend and they turn their clocks forward one hour.

“The time change serves as a bi-annual reminder to test all smoke and CO alarms in your home,” says State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “If you find an alarm that is not working or is expired, replace the alarm immediately. Review your fire-escape plan with your family and hold a drill to practice your plan.”

Daylight Saving Time officially begins its annual eight-month run at 2 a.m. Sunday (March 8, 2020). It was first enacted by the federal government March 19, 1918, during World War I, as a way to conserve coal.

The National Fire Protection Association reports between 2012-2016, almost three out of every five home fire deaths in the U.S. resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.

The chance of dying in a home fire was reduced by 54% in homes were working smoke alarms are present. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

Dead batteries accounted for 25% of smoke alarm failures. In 2019 in Illinois, 89% of pre-existing smoke alarms being replaced in homes that received the new 10-year sealed battery alarms through the “Be Alarmed!” program was found to be non-functional or were expired.

A 2017 Illinois law requires 10-year sealed smoke alarms be installed in all homes built before 1988 or that do not have hardwired smoke detectors by Jan. 1, 2023.

“Participating fire departments in 2019 installed 4,948 10-year sealed smoke alarms in Illinois homes. There are now more than 1,600 homes in Illinois protected and 3,700 residents educated on smoke alarm maintenance, home fire safety and home fire escape plans,” Perez said. “Replacing broken or expired alarms not only helps to create a fire-safe home, but working alarms provide early warning helping prevent loss of life due to fire”

“Be Alarmed!” is a fire safety education and smoke alarm installation program administered cooperatively between the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. The “Be Alarmed!” program is designed to help residents in Illinois comply with the new law, but it’s really aimed at creating fire-safe communities.

For more information on the “Be Alarmed!” program, visit https://www.ifsa.org/programs/alarms.

SOURCE: State Fire Marshal news release

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