RALEIGH — With the end of daylight saving time approaching on Sunday, Nov. 1, the N.C. Department of Insurance reminds families to practice this life-saving habit: When you change your clock this weekend for the end of daylight saving time, remember to change the battery in your smoke alarm.
As many families continue to work and take classes from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Safe Kids North Carolina team has heard reports of teachers saying they are hearing smoke alarm batteries making beeping noises in the background during school sessions and meetings. This could be an indicator that it is time to change your smoke alarm batteries.
“Checking your smoke alarm is a very simple step. It only takes a few minutes and it could potentially be the difference between life and death,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said. “Smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a fire in half, but they need to be in working condition in order to do their job.”
If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, families have about two minutes to get out of their homes once their smoke alarm sounds due to fire. However, those life-saving minutes only occur when alarms are fully powered and operational.
So far this year, 94 people in North Carolina have died because of fire. In many of those instances, a working smoke alarm was not present in the home.
The NFPA reports three out of every five home fire deaths across the nation resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Of those, in fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than half of them had missing or disconnected batteries after nuisance alarms, such as the alarm going off during cooking. Dead batteries caused one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures.
In addition to changing or checking your smoke alarm battery, residents should take note of the following fire preparedness tips:
• Place a smoke alarm on every level of your home outside sleeping areas. If you keep bedroom doors shut, place a smoke alarm in each bedroom.
• Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
• Prepare and practice an escape plan — know at least two ways to get out of a room, crawl low under smoke and plan where to meet outside.
• Keep smoke alarms clean by regularly vacuuming over and around it. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
• Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors, or ducts that can interfere with their operation.
• Never remove the battery from or disable a smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm is sounding “nuisance alarms,” try locating it further from kitchens or bathrooms.
For more information on how to check smoke alarm batteries or have an alarm installed, contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 1-800-634-7854.