Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego is encouraging citizens to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors while changing their clocks for this weekend's "spring forward" time change.
"Having a functional smoke alarm is the simplest, most effective way to ensure you and your family's safety in the event of a home fire," said Trego. "All too often, these critical life-saving devices are overlooked or ignored until it's too late. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries regularly. Our favorite way to remind ourselves to change batteries is to make it part of our time-change routine."
Trego said discharged or missing batteries are the most common cause of a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector malfunction. When functioning, smoke alarms can decrease the risk of dying in a home fire by as much as half. From the moment an alarm sounds, occupants may have as few as two minutes to safely exit the building.
Often called "the silent killer," carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they are aware they have been exposed. Sources include wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired fireplaces, appliances, grills and generators, and motor vehicles.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.
Newer models of smoke alarms marketed as having long-lasting batteries may not need to have their batteries replaced, but thousands of homeowners still use models that use standard batteries that must be replaced regularly.
No matter what type of smoke alarms are used in a home, they should be tested monthly – including hard-wired units connected to the home's electrical system. Homeowners unsure of how to maintain or install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can call their local fire service for advice.
For more information about the fire service in Pennsylvania, go to www.osfc.pa.gov, "like" the OSFC page at www.facebook.com/PAOSFC or call 1-800-670-3473.
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