By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - Spring forward, fall back! Hopefully you turned the clock forward an hour on March 12th and now it's time to test your smoke detectors. Daylight Saving Time began at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 12th and ends at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 5th. When turning the clock forward it's a good practice to change the batteries in your home smoke detectors.
Even though homes built today are required to have smoke alarms installed in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every level, if the alarms aren’t functioning properly, they won’t help those people inside. The North Carolina Department of Insurance often hears of people disconnecting their smoke alarms because the devices are too sensitive and are triggered by steam or smoke given off while cooking. A smoke alarm should never be disconnected; instead homeowners should try relocating it farther from kitchens or bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound. To protect your home and family, follow these smoke alarm installation and maintenance tips (from NFPA):
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
• Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current.
They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire’s location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
• If you, or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration and/or sound.
• Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarms, following the manufacturer’s instructions, can keep them working properly.
• Smoke alarms don’t last forever. Replace yours once every 10 years. If you can’t remember how old the alarm is, then it’s probably time for a new one.
Consider installing smoke alarms with “long-life” (10-year) batteries.