SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI – The bi-annual daylight saving time change – an upcoming task this weekend – also brings the ritual of checking the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors these days.
As the clocks tick back, South County Fire Departments – including the Union Fire District in South Kingstown – want residents to check the operation of their detectors. UFD also distributes batteries to help promote this verification.
“The Union Fire District received a shipment of free batteries from Energizer to participate in the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery program,” according to UFD Fire Marshal Chris Hiener.
UFD has partnered with Energizer, which produces Energizer, Ray-O-Vac, Varta and Eveready batteries. UFD will distribute AA and 9V batteries to residents of the District Office, 131 Asa Pond Road, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. while supplies last.
Hiener said there had been a strong demand for the batteries and he would check to see if Energizer would make an additional donation.
Many electronic devices and devices with clocks will adjust automatically, but smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked to make sure they are working properly. Today’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are not all designed the same, making battery messages more nuanced.
The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates an annual average of 362,000 unintentional home fires, resulting in approximately 2,400 deaths, approximately 10,400 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property losses each year from 2016 to 2018.
The National Fire Protection Association points out that 46% of home fires, with 55% of home fire deaths, occur between November and March. The NFPA has estimated that 57% of deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or that do not work.
Hiener has offered the following advice to any building owner with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that use batteries. He said his tips cover the multiple types of these detectors on the market and their different battery requirements:
Detectors/alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the smoke alarm beeps, warning you that the battery is low, replace the smoke alarm immediately.
These alarms with any other type of battery require a new battery at least once a year. If this alarm sounds, warning that the battery is low, replace the battery immediately.
When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer’s battery list on the back of the alarm or the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (make and model) that are to be used. The alarm may not work properly if a different type of battery is used.
Given the prevalence of 10-year sealed battery alarms, which provide added convenience and protection for a decade, fire experts are also reminding the public that it is always important to test and verify the alarms even with long-lasting batteries.
Alarms with a 10-year sealed battery provide added security and convenience, as the battery lasts the life of the alarm and cannot be removed from the device.
Across the country, many states and major cities have passed legislation for certain types of homes requiring 10-year sealed battery alarms and many more are following suit.
With each sale of a home that is 10 years old or older, the fire marshal checks to see if the appliances are installed and working properly.
For example, homes older than 1976 should have battery-operated detectors, but do not need to be interconnected. They should be outside all sleeping areas and on every level of the house, including basements. The same goes for carbon monoxide detectors.
For those built later, various other laws regulate them, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors outside bedrooms and on each floor of a dwelling, as well as interconnectivity and battery backup requirements , did he declare.
He advised anyone with questions to call their local fire marshal for specific requirements based on when the home was built.
With today’s many requirements, this safety measure requires semi-annual checking and even replacement because the batteries can lose their charge, Hiener said.
“Every year when you change your clocks for daylight saving time, change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and remind your friends, family and neighbors to do the same,” a- he declared.