With daylight saving time ending, Pennsylvania officials are urging residents to check their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as they set their clocks back early Sunday.
Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook emphasized the critical role of these devices in home safety.
“Just like the rest of our household equipment, these devices require routine maintenance. Simply put, a functional smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector is the most effective way to ensure one’s family members are alerted early enough to respond. Test your alarms monthly and replace the batteries regularly,” Cook said.
The National Fire Protection Association warns that a fire alarm may offer as little as two minutes to escape safely once it sounds. Properly functioning smoke alarms can cut the risk of fatal home fires by 50 percent.
Carbon monoxide, an undetectable but lethal gas, can cause incapacitation without warning, with symptoms that resemble the flu.
This year, Red Cross volunteers in Philadelphia and neighboring counties have aided thousands affected by home fires.
“The sooner an alarm alerts you to a fire, the sooner you can get out. When you turn your clocks back this weekend, test your smoke alarms too to help prevent a tragedy in your home,” American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Jennifer Graham said.
Safety experts recommend installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and on each level of the home, including the basement.
Interconnected alarms are advised for larger homes, and alarms should be tested monthly. Alarms should be placed high on walls or ceilings and away from kitchens to minimize false alarms.
Special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers are available for those with hearing impairments.
While newer smoke alarms with long-lasting batteries do not require frequent battery changes, they should still be regularly tested. Many homes still use models that require standard battery replacement.