Check Your Clock, Check Your Battery

- HAGERSTOWN, Md. - In anticipation of daylight saving time, officials with the Hagerstown and Maryland State Fire Marshals Offices are urging residents to change their clocks, and change their batteries in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside their homes. 

Daylight savings time will begin in the early morning hours of March 9, 2014. 

"As the time changes, we always recommend also taking a few moments to check, test your smoke alarms as well as replace batteries if you have the older model smoke alarms," said Hagerstown Fire Marshal Douglas DeHaven.

The Hagerstown Fire Marshal said ideally, we should be maintaining our smoke alarms monthly, but at the least, when you change the clocks.

"We encourage that you take a vacuum cleaner periodically and run across to get any dust, let’s admit that cobwebs occur in every body's house no matter how much you try, get those cobwebs and little spiders out and again just take a vacuum and go over it, around the side and the front," he said.

And the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds us as of 2013, law says you need a smoke alarm on each floor and in each sleeping area. And if you have older model smoke alarms, once it reaches it's 10-year life span, it needs to be replaced with a newer model.

DeHaven said, this winter season has been particularly bad for fires, but he says locally, most of the fires he's dealt with smoke alarms were present.

A new Maryland law became effective on July 1, 2013 involving "battery only" smoke alarms used in residential properties. Officials say when these "battery only" smoke alarms have reached their 10-year life span, they need to be replaced with new long-life sealed lithium battery smoke alarms with silence/hush features. The silence/hush button temporarily disables the alarm so a person can ventilate the space from mild smoke conditions, typically created during cooking. 

"Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. It doesn't matter if it's a 9-volt, if it's electric, if it's a new long-life battery, the detector wears, starts to lose its sensitivity, wears down, we should be replacing them at 10 years," DeHaven said.

According to fire officials, the use of these alarms eliminates the need to replace the batteries during the 10-year life of the alarm.

They say if your property is protected with 120 volt electric smoke alarms, they also should be replaced every 10 years with new 120 volt alarms with battery back-up to ensure proper and timely operation in the event of a fire. 

Fire officials said having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide  detectors can double the chances of survival.

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