ST. PAUL, Minn. — People die every year in Minnesota homes where smoke alarms are absent or not properly working.
Those deaths are preventable, which is why State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl urges everyone to put fresh batteries in home smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when they turn their clocks back one hour this weekend. Smoke alarms need to be checked often and batteries changed at least once a year. Alarms should be replaced after 10 years.
The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when most people are sleeping. Last year in Minnesota, only three fire deaths took place in homes where smoke alarms were known to be present and working.
“These devices save lives every day, and ignoring them can be a fatal mistake,” Rosendahl said.
Rosendahl said the most common reason alarms don’t work is dead or missing batteries. Some people even remove them for other uses or to eliminate nuisance alarms.
“They’re gambling with their lives,” Rosendahl said. “When fire strikes, working alarms and a good escape plan become life-or-death issues.”
In addition to changing alarm batteries this weekend, Rosendahl recommends the following:
- Dust or vacuum smoke and CO alarms when you change batteries.
- Test alarms once a month using the test button.
- Replace the entire alarm if it’s more than 10 years old.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and place them inside and outside of sleeping areas.
- Interconnect alarms in your home so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- Make sure everyone in your home knows how to respond when alarms sound.
- Prepare and practice an escape plan to get everyone out of your home safely.
“Change alarm batteries each time you turn your clocks back,” Rosendahl said. “It’s easy to remember, simple to do, and provides essential protection for your life and property.”
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.
State Fire Marshal Division 2012 annual statistics:
- One fire was reported every 32 minutes.
- Fifty people died in fires.
- Dollar-loss to fires averaged $556 per minute.