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Check Those Batteries!

Written by Carla Hill on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 7:00 pm
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When you have a functional smoke alarm in your home, it cuts your risk of dying in a home fire by one-half. That means it's time to mark your calendar to remember to check your batteries. Set yourself a monthly or quarterly routine for testing your alarms.

Most smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have a button on the outside that you can press to test if the alarm is operational. Performing this simple task could be a real life saver. Be sure to remember, however, that on a carbon monoxide detector, a test button doesn't always show accuracy of a sensor. Instead, pay close attention to the product age and when the manufacturer recommends replacing the unit.

Before installing a detector or an alarm, Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann suggests writing the purchase date inside the unit. Whether a unit is battery-powered or hardwired, it should be replaced every 8-10 years.

Carbon monoxide is created when combustible materials burn incompletely. Often called "the silent killer," it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they're aware they've been exposed.

Sources include wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired appliances, grills, and motor vehicles. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.

Every year an average of 170 people die in the United States from CO poisoning. Don't become a statistic.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that CO alarms always have been and still are designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are reached. The safety standards for CO alarms have been continually improved and currently marketed CO alarms are not as susceptible to nuisance alarms as earlier models.

The same goes for your home's smoke alarms. You should have them on all levels of your home and in various rooms. According to FEMA, “A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you're awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

If your alarm starts beeping at you as a warning of low battery life, don't just unplug the battery to stop the annoyance. Change the battery. This simple act could very well save your life. Need a new alarm in your home? You can buy a smoke alarm for anywhere from $6 to $20. Now, that's a very reasonable investment in your safety!

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