Massachusetts fire officials remind residents to check alarms for daylight saving


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STOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Daylight saving time starts on March 13, and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services is reminding residents to check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when clocks are changed.

“Working smoke and CO alarms are crucial home safety tools,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “As we ‘spring forward’ this weekend, remember to check your alarms when you change your clocks.  Unless you have newer alarms with 10-year sealed batteries, this is a good time to replace the alkaline batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms or replace the entire device if it’s more than 10 years old.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey also warned residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide, saying that it remains a danger even in warmer weather.

“Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States,” he said. “Many cases involve furnaces and other heating appliances, but CO is also produced by stoves, grills, and vehicles, as well as generators put into use during a power outage. We can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide. Working CO alarms are the only way to detect this invisible killer.”

The Department of Fire Services gave a list of how you can better protect your home:

  • Replace aging smoke alarms.

“Just like any appliance, smoke alarms don’t last forever,” said Chief Michael Winn, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. “An alarm’s manufacturing date is printed on the back of the device. Smoke alarms usually need to be replaced after 10 years, and carbon monoxide alarms after five to seven years. If the date on your alarm is more than 10 years ago, or if there’s no date at all, it’s time to replace the alarm.”

  • Replacement alarms should be Photoelectric with 10-year sealed batteries.

Replacing your old alarm? The State Fire Code requires replacement battery-operated smoke alarms in older one- and two-family homes to be photoelectric and have 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable batteries, and a hush feature. Fire officials hope that if smoke alarms are easier to maintain, like those with long-life batteries, people will keep them in use rather than disabling them or forgetting to change out the batteries.

“Disabling a smoke alarm puts you and everyone in your home at risk,” said Chief Winn.

  • Create and practice a home escape plan.

“In the average house fire, you could have less than three minutes to escape after the smoke alarm activates,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Creating and practicing a home escape plan that includes two routes out will help you make the most of that precious time to get outside before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible.”

Nearly half of last year’s fire deaths involved adults over the age of 65. More than 230 fire departments across Massachusetts have grant-funded Senior SAFE programs that may provide assistance with alarm installation and testing. Seniors who need help testing, maintaining, or replacing smoke alarms should contact their local fire department or senior center for assistance.

If you need more information on smoke alarms or the Senior SAFE program, click here or contact your local fire department.

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