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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Safety First Day of the Month - November - An Important Day for Everyone

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Today is November 1, 2016, the "Safety First Day of the Month."  Having a working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm could be the difference in life or death - yours and your family.  

Today is the day that the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department has designated for everyone to test their smoke and CO alarms.  However, it is on this Safety First Day of the Month that we ask you to take an extra step to keep you, your family, friends and others safe in your home.  

The upcoming weekend is the end of Daylight Saving Time and we change our clocks back 1 hour to resume Eastern Standard Time.  When this happens we ask everyone that still uses a 9-volt or  battery operated smoke alarm and CO detector to provide fresh batteries to ensure they remain working during the upcoming cold winter months.  It is during the months of November through February when most home fires occur.  So when you change your clock change your battery in your alarms.

Firefighters highly recommend the use of 10-year smoke and CO alarms.  Never change a battery again.  On January 1, 2018, Maryland State Law will require all battery powered smoke alarms must be a 10-year model.  Remember, if you have a 10-year alarm, you still need to test all alarms on the Safety First Day of each Month.

If your alarms are 10-years of age or older they need to be replaced.  Remember, we have a law we can live with;  you must maintain working smoke and CO alarms on every level of your house.  Smoke alarms should be installed in hallways just outside of sleeping areas and a smoke alarm in every bedroom.  Use 10-years smoke and CO alarms.

Did you know that most hard-wired alarms have some type of battery back-up??  Provide fresh batteries in these devices as well.

Exit Drills in the Home (E.D.I.T.H.)  

Do you know how to survive a burning house??
  • In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).
  • No smoke alarms were present in almost two out of every five (38%) home fire deaths.  
  • The death rate per 100 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths vs. 0.53 deaths per 100 fires).
  • In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. 
  • Dead batteries caused one-quarter (24%) of the smoke alarm failures.

In addition to working smoke alarms you need to know how to exit your house.

When you test your alarms on the Safety First Day of the Month, practice your E.D.I.T.H. that identify 2 ways out of every room in the house and designate a safe meeting place outside.  

Your plan should include closing bedroom doors when you sleep.  

Practice your exit twice a year.

Once out of a burning house - stay out, never go back inside.

We highly recommend installing 10-year smoke alarms in all bedrooms and sleeping with your bedroom door closed.

PGFD Press to Test

Press the TEST button on the front cover of your smoke and CO alarm.

An audible beeping noise SHOULD sound.  If it does, congratulations, your done until next month.

If it does not sound an audible alarm - replace the battery.  Push the TEST button again - still no alarm - remove the alarm and immediately replace with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke or CO alarm or better yet a 10-year combination smoke/CO alarm.

If your alarms are at about 10 years old or you don't remember if you ever replaced the alarm, do it today!!!  Smoke and CO alarms work all day - every day and will wear down over their 10 year service life.

County Law currently requires a working CO detector on every level of your home, primarily, outside of sleeping areas.  This law includes all homes with a gas service (natural, propane, oil, etc), a fireplace or an attached garage.  This law also requires that all hotels, motels, dormitories and all apartments and condos have working CO alarms.

Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes a challenge to reach your alarms installed on your ceiling or high on the wall.  Perhaps you use a step-ladder or stand tall on your toes to reach the test button.  Think about your senior citizen neighbors and relatives that may have difficulty even reaching a light switch.  Test their alarms for them every month, change their batteries at least once-a-year and contact 311 for them if they need a new 10-year smoke alarm installed by firefighters, free of charge.

Don't wait for a firefighter to knock on your door.  If you need a working smoke alarm and can not afford to purchase one, call 311 and ask about the free smoke alarm program.

Our partner at the NFPA provide the following facts about smoke alarms:

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