For Immediate Release
March 11, 2016

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Reminds New Yorkers to Change the Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors This Weekend

Daylight Saving Time is a Good Opportunity to Test Life-Saving Devices


The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today reminded New Yorkers to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

“This weekend, as we get ready to spring ahead into Daylight Saving Time, please take a few minutes to test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” said John P. Melville, Commissioner, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “An early warning may be just enough time to get outside quickly in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak. Use this weekend to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure you are your family can get out in the event of an emergency.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), during 2009-2013, fires in homes with no smoke alarms caused an average of 940 deaths per year (38% of home fire deaths). An additional 510 people per year (21% of home fire deaths) were fatally injured in fires in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.  Power source problems were the leading cause of smoke alarm failures. Many fire departments throughout New York State continue to respond to calls in homes each year where there is no working smoke alarm present. Properly functioning smoke alarms are essential in saving lives from fire.

Often called the invisible killer, NFPA defines carbon monoxide as an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. Products that can produce deadly CO levels include generators and faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 400 in the United States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning and in 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 80,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of nine such calls per hour.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu but without the fever. They include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. If CO poisoning is suspected, get fresh air immediately.  Leave the home and get medical attention immediately. Call your local fire department and do not go back into the home until you are told it is safe.

“When you change your clocks this weekend, please also inspect your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries, added Commissioner Melville. “Additionally, you should replace all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when they are 10 years old or according to manufacturer’s recommendations. To determine the age of your devices, look at the back where you will find the date of manufacture.”

Bryant D. Stevens, New York State Fire Administrator said, “In addition to testing all fire and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend, remember to replace the battery in these life saving devices. Make sure you have a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home, even the basement, and test these detectors monthly. In addition, make sure you and your family have a home escape plan and know how to practice it.”

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control recommends that New Yorkers take the following steps to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones:

  • Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
  • Interconnect all smoke alarms and CO alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Replace all smoke and CO alarms every ten years or according to manufacturer’s recommendations, especially if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Test all smoke and CO alarms at least once a month.
  • If you or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration or sound.
  • Recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
  • Choose a smoke and CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrives.
  • Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • Generators should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Only use gas or charcoal grills outdoors.

For more information on smoke and CO alarms, visit the Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/resources/co-toolkit/index.cfm .

 

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