IAFC Recommendation: Change The Batteries In Smoke Detectors

ST. LOUIS – Americans can cut the chance of dying in a home fire nearly in half by adopting the simple lifesaving habit of ensuring they have a working smoke alarm.

This is why the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Energizer(R) Max(R) brand Batteries and more than 5,800 fire departments across the country are speaking out with a simple message, “Change Your Clock Change Your Battery(R).”

Working smoke alarms help save lives in home fires. It is a simple concept yet approximately 1,000 children under the age of 20 die annually in house fires – an average of nearly three children each day. So make fire safety a priority by reminding your families, friends, and neighbors to use the extra hour to change their smoke alarm batteries on Sunday, October 29, when they change their clocks (from Daylight Saving Time).

A Simple Habit Can Save a Life

“The smoke alarm located in the main floor hallway in our home sounded when a bird’s nest caught fire in our chimney,” said homeowner Rosemarie Saar. “It was late evening and we were in our lower level. The smoke alarm alerted us to take quick action and get out of our burning house without any injuries.”

It is a simple message that speaks volumes – change the batteries in your home smoke alarms when you change your clocks in the fall. Even though 96 percent of American homes have smoke alarms, 23 percent do not have at least one smoke alarm that works, mostly due to worn or missing batteries. So, approximately 26 million homes are at needless risk for home fire fatalities due to non-working smoke alarms.

“Fire fatalities most often occur when families are sleeping. Many people believe they will awaken from the smell of smoke. Unfortunately by the time people actually smell the smoke, it is often too late,” says Chief Jim Harmes, president of the IAFC. “A working smoke alarm can provide critical extra seconds many people need to safely get out of a fire. We have been saying it for 19 years now, but that simple act of changing smoke alarm batteries is truly a lifesaver.”

According to Robert Neimeyer, a 44-year veteran fire firefighter and current Fire Chief for the City of Brentwood, Mo., has seen first hand the importance of home smoke alarms. “In addition to saving lives, we have seen that smoke alarms have made families aware of fires sooner, thereby lessening the damage in many home fires.”

In the mid-80’s, the IAFC and Energizer recognized a disturbing trend – despite widespread use of smoke alarms, the number of home fire deaths and injuries continued to increase. Research showed non-working smoke alarms were often responsible. The Change Your Clock Change Your Battery(R) program was created out of this concern in 1987. Now in its 19th year, the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery message reaches millions of children, senior citizens, and families in communities nationwide.

“When we started this program with the IAFC back in 1987, we had no idea how far this lifesaving message would go,” says Jeff Ziminski, vice president of marketing at Energizer. “What has become clear through the years is that together we are helping to save lives. We have been able to help reduce home fire casualties through public education about the importance of home smoke alarms and proper smoke alarm maintenance.”

Five common reasons home smoke alarms do not function properly

  • Battery has not been replaced in a timely fashion.
  • Battery has been removed for use in another device such as a toy
  • Battery has been removed due to “chirping sound,” which actually    indicates the battery needs to be replaced
  • Smoke alarm has not been cleaned regularly.
  • Smoke alarm is aged and possibly contains outdated parts or technology

Each of these reasons is easily remedied by either simply replacing the smoke alarm battery and/or the actual smoke alarm.


IAFC and Energizer press release.

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