MN fire expert: Don't let smoke detectors become an afterthought
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
The fall season, especially around the end of daylight saving time, prompts plenty of reminders regarding home fire safety. A Minnesota official says there are things people tend to overlook, and that there are options for at-risk households.
Turning back your clock is often linked with messaging
to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
St. Cloud Fire Department Captain Anthony Lorenz said one thing that isn't commonly known is these devices no longer work after a certain point.
"Typically, smoke detectors have a useful lifespan of maybe eight to ten years. And then, regardless of the battery status or the status on the wall, it needs to be replaced, just to make sure that it's still actively detecting the things in the home," Lorenz explained.
For low-income households or those who are physically unable to check a detector, he points to a program led by the American Red Cross of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Folks can go online to schedule a safety visit for a free device, or to have one installed. Another key tip is to avoid placing a detector near a window or door, so that drafts don't interfere with their functions.
And if you hear a "chirp" in the middle of the night and feel confident there's no threat, Lorenz advises against disabling the alarm and waiting to deal with it later.
"If they have any question in their mind as to why that smoke detector is chirping or making a noise, they can certainly call their local fire department [and] we can come out and investigate it further," he said.
The devices often come with instructions on the back that detail what the situation is for the number of chirps going off, such as a low battery. Experts also stress that a manufacturer's instructions might list a specific battery and that the smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
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