Sunday, March 10, 2019 we “spring forward” and set our clocks ahead one hour in observance of daylight saving time. As we change our clocks, our fire prevention team asks that you use this opportunity to check the batteries in your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and practice your home escape plan.
Smoke alarms are on duty, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, scanning the air for fire and smoke and ready to alert your family if there is a fire in your home. “It’s critical that these life-saving devices are checked and tested frequently to ensure they’re working properly,” said Chief Linda Hale of the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office. “We recommend that smoke alarms are placed, at a minimum, in each bedroom, outside sleeping areas and on every level of the home. Early warning in the event of a fire can provide the lifesaving seconds you may need to escape.”
Remember, smoke alarms must be maintained! A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all. To keep smoke and CO alarms in optimal condition:
• Test smoke and CO alarms monthly.• Clean away any dust or debris from the alarm.• Replace batteries according to manufacturer’s recommendations (alkaline versus 10 year lithium).• Completely replace all smoke alarms after 10 years or if the alarm does not respond properly when tested.
The Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System’s Smoke Alarm Program offers free home safety inspections and smoke alarms to all residents. If your smoke alarms are broken or outdated we will replace them with battery powered alarms at no cost and install additional alarms as necessary. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the smoke alarm hotline 703-737-8093 or visit www.loudoun.gov/smokealarms.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal at relatively low levels so properly installed and maintained CO alarms are critical to your safety. CO alarms should be installed on every level of the home and in hallways outside of sleeping areas. If the CO alarm sounds or you suspect CO poisoning evacuate immediately and call 9-1-1. Common symptoms of CO poisoning are dizziness, light-headedness, and flu-like symptoms.
Last but certainly not least, every household needs a home escape plan! As a household, identify two possible exits routes for each room and designate a safe meeting place outside. Use this home escape planning tool from the National Fire Protection Association to create your family home escape plan. For more information on fire prevention and life safety resources in Loudoun County, please visit www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal or call Public Education Manager Lisa Braun at 571-258-3222.