SPRINGFIELD – The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) reminds residents to change their smoke alarm batteries when they set their clocks back to standard time this weekend.
Every household should adopt the habit of changing smoke alarm batteries twice each year, and testing smoke alarms once a month, to ensure they are in working order.
“As we set our clocks back with weekend, it is the perfect time for families to change their smoke alarm batteries,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “A tragedy can happen at any time. It is important to make sure smoke alarms are in place and properly functioning at all times.”
Fire Marshal Matkaitis recommends that before going to bed on Nov. 2 Illinois residents should also make sure to change the battery in each of their smoke alarms.
If there are no smoke alarms in place, residents should purchase them as soon as possible, to be in compliance with the Illinois Smoke Detector Act.
The OSFM also reminds families to install smoke alarms on every floor and at least 15 feet from each bedroom or sleeping area. In addition, smoke alarms should be tested for functionability once a month.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2012, U.S. fire departments responded to more than 1.3 million fires, of which 365,000 were home structure fires. These resulted in 2,380 civilian deaths, 12,875 injuries, and $7 billion in property losses. In three out of five residential fires, smoke detectors were not present, or did not operate at the time of the fire.
In 2012, Illinois reported 123 fire fatalities. In addition, only half of the homes reported in structure fires had smoke alarms present.
The following are some additional tips for smoke alarm installation and maintenance:
• According to the Illinois Smoke Detector Act, smoke alarms should be within 15 feet of all sleeping areas, with at least one on each floor.
• For residents that have hard-wired smoke alarms, battery operated smoke alarm backups should be considered in case of a power outage.
• For hearing impaired family members, install alarms that combine flashing lights with sound.
• Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
• Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
• Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could interfere with the alarm’s ability to sound.
For more information on smoke alarms and other devices please visit, www.sfm.illinois.gov.