Time Change – Battery Check

March 19, 2010

Rants, Tips

DST, Rants, Safety, Tips

Anyone that knows me is aware of my disdain for Daylight Savings Time (DST).  I humbly request that you take my grumblings with a grain of salt the next few weeks as I adjust.  I am generally a fan of Benjamin Franklin and like to carry his likeness with me at all times, but when I found out that it was his writing of An Economical Project in 1784 that fostered DST, my respect for him dropped considerably!  Honestly though, he would probably be quite amused that his tongue-in-cheek treatise based on his desire to stay up late and sleep until noon was adopted as international policy!

When you change your clocks, check your smoke detectors as well.

So, can we make lemonade from lemons here?  The time change is a good time to check your smoke detectors.  This is promoted by fire departments across the United States.  First, minimally, go around and press the test button to be sure they’re working.  Best would be to go ahead and change the batteries.  Even the hardwired detectors often have battery back-ups.  If the battery died while you were on vacation, you might not have heard that annoying chirp.  Also, someone may have robbed the detector of its battery for a use they considered more of an emergency at that time.  This is ALWAYS a bad idea!  Drag your lazy butt to the store if the TV remote needs a new battery!

Second, review your smoke detector locations.  If you have an older home, you may not have smoke detectors located to meet current codes and recommended standards.  Check with your local building inspector for code requirements in your area.  Check with your insurance company for their minimum standards which could be different.  If you are adding smoke detectors, be sure and review the types available.  Ionization smoke detectors are the most popular, mainly due to price.  These economical units are reliable, but may not detect a slow, smoldering fire quickly.  A photoelectic smoke detector uses a beam of light that is refracted when smoke is present.  This is generally considered a better detector, but is also more expensive.  You can find a well written comparison of the two here.

Third, consider adding carbon monoxide detectors.  These devices give you another form of protection against unsafe air conditions.

Fourth, review your escape plan.  The lives of you and your family may depend on it.  Cool heads are rare in a fire, so make up for this by having an easy to follow plan that everyone in the family knows and understands.  There is a good template on developing a fire escape plan here.

Lest you think I’m softening my position on DST, it is recommended that you check your smoke detectors once a year.  It would be much better to do this on a once a year holiday such as Valentine’s Day (to protect your lover) or the 4th of July (because fireworks are fire hazards) or Christmas (you have the ladder out to put the star on the tree anyway).  DST causes you to change the clocks twice a year, which will undoubtedly lead to confusion for some.  But since the firemen have chosen the Spring DST clock change for this, there’s no sense bucking city hall…  You’re already late!  Check your smoke detectors now.

Ed. Note:  Fire Chief Andrew made a good point in the comments:  One additional item to mention comes from the NFPA website. “Having a smoke alarm cuts your risk of dying in a fire NEARLY IN HALF. Test yours today”

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