HARRISBURG – State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay is reminding citizens to test all smoke alarms and change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors if needed when setting clocks back one hour this weekend.
“Smoke alarms are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect your loved ones from a home fire,” Solobay said. “It only takes a few minutes to test or change the batteries, and it’s time well-spent.”
Most new models of smoke alarms come with batteries that will last ten years but must be tested monthly; older models have batteries that must be changed regularly to ensure they work properly.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38 percent) or no working smoke alarms (21 percent).
Solobay also said carbon monoxide detectors should be tested and batteries changed as well, particularly as the weather turns colder and people start using things like wood stoves and gas furnaces to heat their homes.
Carbon monoxide is created when combustible materials burn incompletely. Often called “the silent killer,” it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they’re aware they’ve been exposed, and leaves them unable to call 9-1-1 for help. 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.
Solobay said this weekend is also a good time for families to review and practice their home fire escape plans.
The commonwealth’s ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved.
More detailed information, including free downloadable emergency home and car kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org. The free ReadyPA app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.