SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Change Your Clocks, Check Your Smoke Alarms!!


October 29, 2009


Alaska State Fire Marshal David Tyler along with the Ketchikan Fire Department and North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department are reminding Alaskans to check the batteries in their smoke alarms when they change their clock from Daylight Savings Time this Sunday.

Many homes have smoke alarms with 9-volt batteries that should be replaced at least twice annually. Daylight Savings Time serves as a reminder to check your smoke alarms and change the batteries. Long-life lithium batteries have a life span of up to 10 years, so you may not need to replace this type of battery as often.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that 90% of American homes are equipped with smoke alarms but more than 50% of them are not in proper working condition. "The key is to take a few minutes to check, test and clean your smoke alarm to make sure it is functioning properly, and what better time to do this than when you change your clock from Daylight Savings Time", Tyler said.

Having working smoke alarms is not the total answer in making your home fire safe. Practicing general fire safety behaviors and preparing and practicing emergency exit plans are essential to aid in preventing fires and fire fatalities. "In today's times of modern technology, many people are also looking towards taking advantage of residential sprinkler systems. These systems are designed to put the fire out before it can become a problem and is a relatively inexpensive way to provide and even greater safety environment for your family", adds Tyler.

It is important to remember that manufacturer's guidelines for smoke alarm installation, testing, cleaning, and replacing batteries should be followed. General recommendations are as follows:

  • Install smoke alarms in your home if you do not currently have them. An alarm located between the sleeping area and the living area offers a minimum amount of protection. For maximum protection, install an alarm in every room, on every level of your home.
  • Smoke alarms loose sensitivity over time and should be replaced. The approximate lifespan of an alarm is 10 years.
  • At least once a month, press the test button to check your alarm. If the alarm doesn't sound, replace the batteries. If this doesn't solve the problem, replace the unit. Keep in mind that 9-volt batteries should be changed at least twice a year. Start this practice to coincide with Daylight Savings Time.
  • Periodically clean smoke alarms using a vacuum attachment or compressed air. This removes dust, dirt, and insects that can interfere with a smoke alarm's operation.
  • When a "chirping" sound is noted, this is a sign that the batteries are weak and should be replaced.
  • Having properly working smoke alarms can more than double your family's chances of surviving a fire.

The Ketchikan Fire Department adds:

  • This time of year is a good time to have your boilers and heating equipment serviced. Don't wait until your boilers are not working to call for service. Annual maintenance helps prevent breakdowns as well as accidents.
  • Carbon Monoxide is "The Silent Killer" and can kill a quickly as fire. If you have fuel-fired (any equipment that burns liquid or gas fuels, wood, pellets) equipment in your homes or apartments, have a Carbon Monoxide detector. Check and clean your flues, chimneys, make sure your heating equipment is working properly and "Never" warm up your car in the garage.
  • Heat tapes that protect plumbing exposed to the elements are always a concern to fire departments. Frayed wires, extension cords, and old or damaged heat tapes can lead to a fire. Make sure your heat tapes are in proper working order, circuits and electrical cords are not overloaded, and that heat tapes are properly installed.
  • Have a Fire Escape Plan for your family and practice it. Always have two ways out of your sleeping areas. If windows are elevated, have an escape ladder or other means of escape ready. If you don't have two ways out, especially in sleeping areas, you could become trapped in the event of a fire.
  • Check your Fire Extinguishers, know how to use them, know where they are, and how to maintain them. Know if you should fight a fire or flee a fire. Fire can kill! Don't put yourself or your family at risk attempting to fight a fire that is too big. Know your limitations and the limitations of a fire extinguisher.
  • The Ketchikan Fire Department has free smoke alarms available if you can't afford one or are in immediate need of one.

The Holiday Season is about to begin. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are supposed to be happy and safe. Take a few minutes and check your residence for fire and safety hazards. The Ketchikan Fire Department has free information available that can help you avoid a fire and help you and your family stay safe this holiday season.


Safety Information on the Web:


Source of News:

Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office

Ketchikan Fire Department

North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department


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Ketchikan, Alaska