LAFD: Change Your Clock Tonight, Check Your Alarms


It is that time again. Change your clocks Saturday night, setting them forward one hour for Daylight Saving time. Remember to take a few extra minutes to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 71 percent of smoke alarms that failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Smoke Alarms Safety Tips

Smoke alarms, like other household appliances, don’t last forever. Check the age of your alarms. Smoke alarms usually need to be replaced after 10 years. Here are some important facts to remember about your smoke alarms.

  • Roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • In a fire, smoke spreads farther and faster than fire. More people die from breathing smoke than from burns.
  • When people are asleep, deadly smoke fumes can cause them to sink into unconsciousness and then death, long before flames ever reach them.
  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom. They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multi-sensing, which could include smoke and carbon monoxide combined.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.

Time Is Your Enemy in a Fire

Time is your enemy in a fire. Working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible. No one expects to be a victim of fire, but the best way to survive one is to have working smoke alarms. In the average house fire, there are only 1-3 minutes to escape AFTER the smoke alarm sounds. If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Respond quickly- get up and go!

A trick to remember when it’s time to change your smoke alarm batteries is to change them when you change your clocks (fall backward, spring forward) to make it a habit. For hard-wired smoke alarms, replace the backup battery at least once a year. A smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years. Take a few minutes to protect those you love this weekend when you “spring forward” by testing and changing the batteries in your smoke alarms.