Time change good for testing smoke alarms

Daylight savings time will give residents an extra hour on Sunday — one fire officials say should be used to replace smoke alarms and batteries.

Area fire chiefs say smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are so important that they will come out and install them for you — literally.

Newton, Conover, Claremont and Hickory fire departments all have programs that provide free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for those in need.

“We will go out and install a smoke alarm for them if they don’t have anything and need to be replaced. We install a long-life battery in them as well,” said Terri Byers, fire education coordinator for Hickory Fire Department.

Newton Fire Chief Kevin Yoder said his department also provides batteries and alarms for residents who are in need. He said smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are always something firemen check for.

“We carry smoke detectors on our fire engines in case they need one,” Yoder said. “If we respond somewhere and they tell us they don’t have an alarm or one that is working, we go ahead and install one for them.”

Conover Fire Chief said before his men leave a residence, they always check for alarms as well.

“That’s something we always look for as firemen," he said. "It’s like a first nature type of thing.”

On average, three children die each day from home fires, and 80 percent of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the Hickory Fire Department. Byers said firefighters state that the most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms is worn or missing batteries.

Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce tragic deaths and injuries. In fact, a working smoke alarm nearly cuts in half the risk of dying in a home fire.

“Every smoke detector has that test button on it,” Yoder said. “I wouldn’t suggest anyone activate it with real smoke or canned smoke. If they don’t feel comfortable getting on chairs and ladders, they can call the department and we will come out and do it for them.”

Hickory Fire Chief Tom Alexander said a working smoke alarm could be the difference between life and death.

“A working smoke alarm provides an early warning and critical extra seconds to escape,” Alexander said. “This is particularly important for those most at risk of dying in a home fire, such as children and seniors.”