• Change your clocks, change your batteries….

        A reminder from www.loudoun.gov

        It’s That Time of Year Again: Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

        As the time change approaches on Sunday, November 4, the Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management wants to remind residents to make another change that could save their lives — changing the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.Communities nationwide witness tragic home fire deaths each year. An average of three children per day die in home fires and 80 percent of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Non-working smoke alarms rob residents of the protective benefits home fire safety devices were designed to provide. The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms: dead or missing batteries.Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. The simple yet powerful act of changing the batteries in smoke alarms when you change your clocks on November 4th can cut a family’s risk of dying in a home fire significantly. In addition, if your smoke alarm is 10 years old or old, it should be replaced.“The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM when most families are sleeping,” says Chief Fire Marshal Keith Brower. “Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can given them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.”In addition, Brower recommends residents use the “extra” hour they save from the time change to test smoke alarms by pushing the test button, planning “two ways out” of each room in the home and practicing those escape routes with the entire family. “This is an excellent opportunity to get everyone in the household involved,” commented Brower. “In an emergency, seconds count. Knowing what to do can help save your life, or the life of someone you love.””Many times when we speak to residents who have experienced a fire in their home, they recall becoming confused and disoriented by the conditions and severity of the situation – but they realized they needed to get out fast,” said Brower. “Sometimes there are only seconds to escape, but there’s no question that having a plan in place that has been practiced saves precious time and makes survival more likely.” Brower also says it is vitally important for people, once outside, to remain outside, take a head count and let firefighters know the family status. “While all buildings are searched during a fire to ensure occupants have evacuated, the risk to firefighters and their safety can be minimized by generally knowing that all people have gotten out.” Tragically, fire can and will strike anywhere.

        Those most at risk include:
        • Children – approximately 1,000 children under the age of 20 die each year in home fires. Children under age five are at twice the risk of dying in a home fire.
        • Seniors – adults over age 75 are three times more like to die in home fires than the rest of the population; those over 85 are 4.5 times more likely to die in a home fire. Many seniors are unable to escape quickly.

        Brower states that it is a good idea to arm yourself against home fires by taking some basic home fire safety precautions, including installing fresh batteries in smoke alarms.
        The following check list is provided:
        • Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries – Smoke alarm batteries should be changed once a year at the minimum. An easy way to remember to change your batteries is when you turn your clock back in the fall or forward in the spring. Replace old batteries with fresh high-quality alkaline batteries to keep your smoke alarm going year-long.
        • Check Your Smoke Alarms – After inserting a fresh battery in your smoke alarm, check to make sure the smoke alarm is working by pushing the safety test button. • Count Your Smoke Alarms – Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including one in every bedroom and one outside each sleeping area.
        • Test and Maintain Smoke Alarms Monthly – each month, clean your smoke alarm of dust and cobwebs to ensure they are working properly. It is recommended that if your smoke alarm is ten years old or older, that it should be replaced.
        • Plan and Practice Your Escape Plan – Design an escape plan that includes at least two different escape routes from each room of your home and practice these regularly with the entire family. Children are at double the risk of dying in a home fire because they often become scared and confused during fires. Make sure your children understand that a smoke alarm signal signals a fire and that they recognize its alarm.
        • And remember, once your family is outside, stay outside. Let the firefighters know whether everyone is out or whether someone may still be inside.

        For additional information about fire safety, contact the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office or Joy Dotson, Public Education Manager, at 703-777-0333.