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Fall Back Into Safety

OSWEGO – The end of daylight savings (2 a.m. on Nov. 4) is rapidly approaching and the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York is urging New Yorkers to inspect their smoke alarms when they change their clocks.
Working smoke alarms are critical in preventing fire deaths, fire officials said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, three of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or working smoke alarms.
FASNY specifically encourages New Yorkers to install smoke alarms equipped with sealed-in, non-removable batteries that last for 10 years. These alarms don’t require any battery changes during their lifespan and are nearly impossible to disable.
In December of 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation banning the sale of smoke alarms equipped with removeable batteries in New York State. The legislation takes effect in April of 2019.
Captain Paul Conzone, AEMT, also stresses the importance of smoke and CO alarms.
“With daylight savings and moving the clocks, we should also be checking smoke alarm and CO alarm batteries. In most applications, batteries should be changed out with new ones every six months,” the Oswego Fire Department’s Public Information Officer told Oswego County Today. “Unfortunately, we find that many homes do not have enough working smoke alarms. And, in some cases have none at all.”
The US Fire Administration reports that New York State has experienced 107 civilian fire deaths thus far in 2018, ranking second in the nation behind Texas (as of October 29, 2018).
Placement of Carbon Monoxide alarms is also a key component to protecting life and property, Conzone pointed out.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to humans in concentrations above 35 ppm. CO is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds; forming when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, such as when operating a stove or an internal combustion engine in an enclosed space.
There is a law in place in NYS, he said.
Legislation enacted in New York in 2014 required every restaurant and commercial building in the state to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors by June 2015.
Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of up to $1,000 per day of violation, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both.
Under prior state law, every single-family home, two-family home, condominium, cooperative and each unit of a multiple dwelling building required a working CO detector. Restaurants and other commercial buildings where excluded under prior law.
“Your typical two-story, three-bedroom home should have at least six smoke alarms; one on every level of the home including the basement and attic, one inside of every bedroom, and one outside of every sleeping area in the hallway,” Conzone explained. “CO alarms should be installed on every level of the home as well. We find that many homes are not compliant with these practices. We do have a smoke alarm program, where we install alarms for Oswego residents at no cost. We are happy to visit homes on request to check for fire hazards.”
FASNY also encourages the installation of home fire sprinklers, which dramatically reduce civilian fire deaths and injuries, as well as protecting the responding firefighters.
Most fatal fires happen between midnight and 8 a.m. and it takes only a few moments for fire to spread through a house. Occupants of a burning home may only have minutes to escape before being overcome by the smoke and flames.
Working smoke alarms help ensure that people are awakened and able to take advantage of those precious minutes.
Furthermore, NFPA research shows the presence of fire sprinklers lowers the civilian death rate by 81 percent, and the firefighter injury rate by nearly 80 percent.
“New York State has already experienced a tragic year for fire deaths,” said FASNY President Steven Klein. “This is particularly disturbing considering that winter, the busiest time of the year for home fires, has yet to truly arrive. Installing and maintaining working smoke alarms, particularly smoke alarms with 10-year batteries, is the most important thing people can do to protect themselves and their families. Taking a few minutes to inspect and install smoke alarms now could be the difference between tragedy and survival.”
Smoke Alarm Tips
• Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.
• Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they’re working.
• Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old.
• Interconnect your smoke alarms so that when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do.
• If you have an alarm with a removable battery, be sure to check the batteries every six months, and change the batteries every year. If a battery is starting to lose its power, the unit will usually chirp to warn you. Do NOT disable the unit.
• Vacuum or blow out any dust that might have accumulated in the unit.
• NEVER borrow a battery from an alarm to use somewhere else.
• NEVER paint a smoke or CO alarm.
• Smoke alarms should not be installed near a window because drafts could interfere with their operation.
• Families should also develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing smoke alarms and replacing the batteries.
For more information visit www.NFPA.org.
For more information, visit www.fasny.com