Recent Tragic Fire Death Highlights Importance of Working Smoke Alarms
(New York – October 31, 2016) – As Daylight Savings Time comes to an end this weekend, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) urges all New Yorkers to check their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are functioning properly.
The nation received a tragic reminder of how important working smoke alarms are just this past month, when a 3-year-old boy was tragically killed in Spokane, Washington. He died, clutching his teddy bear, alongside his puppy, unable to escape from his burning home. Though the home had smoke alarms, they did not have working batteries. Because of this lack of early warning, he was unable to escape and he perished in the house fire.
“Too many homes – without detectors, or mistakenly relying on non-working smoke alarms – are putting families in avoidable peril,” said FASNY President Kenneth Pienkowski. “Installing and maintaining smoke alarms in your house is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from fires. Easy, but vital maintenance means checking that batteries are not only inside the alarms, but that they are working. Just as important is installing and maintaining CO detectors. Our hearts are with the people of Spokane, and we urge New Yorkers to properly protect themselves so we can avoid such an incident here.”
FASNY urges the public to invest whenever possible in smoke alarms with sealed-in, non-removeable batteries capable of powering the device for at least 10 years. These alarms require much less maintenance than older models with removeable batteries, and are virtually impossible to disable. Such alarms stand a better chance of preventing the sort of tragedy that occurred in Spokane. In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law requiring all smoke alarms sold in New York State to be equipped with sealed-in, nonremovable, 10-year batteries. This law takes effect on January 1, 2017. Regardless of the type of alarm in one’s home, FASNY recommends cleaning all detectors to remove any debris that might impede their function and to test the batteries, changing them if necessary.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three of every five home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. The non-functioning units are often due to a lack of proper maintenance. A frequently found situation with older smoke alarms is where someone has ‘borrowed’ a battery from an alarm, rendering the device useless. Another common and dangerous action is disabling the battery to eliminate the low-battery chirping noise.
Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 6th at 2:00 a.m.
FASNY smoke & CO detector tips:
- Test detectors at least once a month by using the test button.
- Check the batteries every six months, and change the batteries every year (if applicable). If a battery is starting to lose its power, the unit will usually chirp to warn you. Do NOT disable the unit.
- When possible, outfit your home with detectors and alarms equipped with sealed-in, 10-year lithium batteries that last the lifetime of the devices – to provide a decade of 24/7 fire safety protection without the risk of dead or missing batteries.
- Vacuum or blow out any dust that might accumulate in the unit.
- NEVER borrow a battery from a detector to use somewhere else.
- NEVER paint a smoke or CO detector.
- Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement, in every bedroom and near every sleeping area.
- Smoke detectors should not be installed near a window because drafts could interfere with their operation.
- Smoke detectors should be completely replaced every ten years.
Families should also develop and practice a home fire escape plan.