Working smoke detectors vital for home safety

Daylight saving time returned last weekend and while that means we will have an extra hour of daylight to enjoy outdoor activities, it also represents one of the two good times during the year to follow a routine of checking smoke detector batteries in your home.

There were more than 480,000 structure fires in 2012, with 2,470 deaths and more than 14,000 injuries and $9.8 billion in damage, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.

There was a home structure fire every 85 seconds nationwide in 2012, according to the agency.

Smoke detectors save lives and limit property damage.

The time to talk about smoke detectors is before a fire breaks out.

Anyone can walk into a department or hardware store and purchase a smoke alarm for as little as $10.

Installation is easy, and can be accomplished by just about anyone. Local fire departments can be called for help in placing the smoke detectors throughout a home. Experts say the best configuration includes one alarm on each floor of the house and inside sleeping areas.

Remember that smoke alarms aren’t effective if they aren’t working properly. You can ensure that by testing the alarms once a month by pushing the test button and observing that the lights flash and the alarm sounds loudly.

When properly installed and maintained, smoke alarms do save lives.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.

The biggest causes for an alarm to fail to function properly are missing, disconnected or dead batteries. In fact, surveys show that almost one-third of all smoke detectors fall into that category, and that’s as bad as not having a smoke detector at all.

Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths, and cooking is the primary cause of residential fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.

Smoke alarms give residents of the home a chance to safely escape.

Consider the time to spring ahead as the time to double check those batteries. While you’re at it, clean your smoke alarm.

The association recommends the unit be replaced if it is more than 10 years old.