Sunday, November 5, 2023, we “Fall Back” and set our clocks back one hour to Eastern Standard Time. As we do, the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System (LC-CFRS) reminds citizens to use this opportunity to check the batteries in your smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms.
A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for smoke. A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all!
“Smoke alarms are the first line of defense in alerting a person to the presence of smoke and fire in the home,” said Keith Johnson, Chief of the LC-CFRS. “It’s critical that these life-saving devices are tested frequently to ensure they work when you need them most.”
Remember, smoke alarms must be maintained! All smoke alarms should be tested monthly and maintained by replacing the batteries as recommended and vacuuming off any dust and debris. In smoke alarms with standard batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year. If at any time your alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the batteries right away. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away. Always check the manufacturer’s expiration date and specifications on the label located on the back of the alarm. Whether hardwired or battery driven, ALL smoke alarms should be completely replaced every ten years.
In addition to smoke alarms, ensure that your family is protected against Carbon Monoxide (CO). Often called the invisible killer, CO is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. It is recommended that you install CO alarms outside each separate sleeping area and on each level of your home. CO alarms should also be tested monthly, replacing the batteries as recommended by the manufacturer, and CO alarms that do not respond correctly when tested or reach the manufacturers recommended lifespan should be replaced.
Loudoun County Fire and Rescue offers free home safety and smoke alarm assessments to all Loudoun County residents. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the hotline 703-737-8093 or visit www.loudoun.gov/smokealarms. It is also critical to develop and practice a home escape plan so that everyone knows what to do if an alarm sounds. To learn about home escape planning and to get additional fire safety information, visit www.loudoun.gov/fire or call Lisa Montalvo, Public Education Manager, at 571-258-3222.