Bradley County Fire Rescue Chief Dewey Woody and Cleveland Fire Chief Chuck Atchley announced the reminder.
Clock time “falls back” from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time officially at 2 a.m. Sunday.
With the time change, fire departments across the nation take the opportunity to alert the public about changing smoke alarm batteries.
Bradley County has had a number of fire deaths during the past few years, all which were preventable if operable smoke alarms had been present, according to both chiefs.
“Smoke alarms can alert you to a fire in your home in time for you to escape — even if you are sleeping,” said Atchley. “To wake up and survive a nighttime fire, it’s a must to have a working smoke alarm.
“Placement of smoke detectors is very important,” added Atchley.
Woody and Atchley recommend smoke alarms be mounted outside each sleeping area, generally a common hallway. If the home has more than one level, alarms should be placed on each level, including basement areas.
“And additional smoke alarms should be placed in bedrooms if you sleep with the doors closed,” Atchley recommended.
The chiefs said the simple tips below could save life and prevent destruction:
n Mount the alarm at least six inches from the wall or on a wall between six and 12 inches from the ceiling. Placement is important because of the path of “smoke travel.” Corners have dead air space;
n For higher-pitched ceilings such as cathedral style, mount detectors three feet from the highest point;
n Avoid placement of detectors near ceiling fans or air and heat vents;
n Make sure the smoke detector you use is UL listed;
n Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years;
n When replacing smoke detectors, replace them with detectors that use lithium batteries. The battery will extend the life of the detector;
n Test smoke alarms at least once a month, following the manufacturer’s directions.
n Never “borrow” a smoke detector’s battery for another use. A disabled smoke detector can’t save your life;
n Educate everyone in the household about what to do if the detector alarm sounds;
n Plan and execute a fire drill. Practice the drill. Determine primary and secondary escape routes for everyone in the home. Establish a common meeting place outside the home;
- Get out of the structure immediately;
- Most importantly, before opening doors to hallways in the event the alarm sounds, check for heat against the door. If heat is evident, do not open the door. Use the predetermined secondary escape route; and
n If the home is filled with smoke — “Go Low,” meaning try to stay as low as possible while leaving the premises. Deadly gases could be contained in the smoke. These gases usually mix as furnishings burn. The cocktail of smoke can quickly overwhelm the respiratory system and cause injury or death.
Each year, CFD and BCFR firefighters work to educate, especially in the schools and community events, regarding the dangers of fire.
n Cooler weather means heating use will be prevalent. Be sure to remember the three-foot rule: Never place combustible materials within three feet of a heat source.
n Always remember to extinguish candles.
n Be safe when using light bulbs near combustible materials. Sometimes homeowners will use incandescent light bulbs to provide warmth to water lines and even in pet shelters. Make sure the bulbs are secured away from combustibles such as paper, wood or fabrics.
(During my reporting on emergency fire calls and according to CFD and BCFR reports, most fires are caused by items which cost under $2 — these catalysts for fire are usually candles or light bulbs and inexpensive drop cords which are not U.L. listed and have been run under area rugs.)
Woody also said that gang plugs, outlets which expand capacity in wall outlets, have also been noticed as a cause of fires.
“Homeowners or residents will purchase these for $1 or $2 at local retailers and they are not designed for continuous use, not U.L. approved and are not heavy-duty to distribute electricity properly,” said Woody,
For additional information on how to keep your family safe this cold weather season, visit the Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency website and click on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Are You Ready” link. The PDF file information will not only prepare your family for a fire disaster, but how to respond to any other natural or man-made disaster.
“Preparedness begins at home. One of the most simple safety steps one can take is to make sure smoke alarms are working and their batteries are fresh,” said Atchley.
Both Bradley County Fire and Cleveland Fire Department will visit your home to go over safety and perform a fire safety inspection.
Both will also come to your home and install smoke alarms.
The phone number for Bradley County Fire Rescue is 728-7293 or call the Cleveland Fire Department at 476-6753 for more information.