Clocks go back one hour tomorrow for Daylight Savings Time. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal wants to remind Illinoisans to also test and check the expiration dates on their smoke alarms and change the batteries.
Fire Marshal Spokesperson J.C. Fultz says it’s a relatively easy process: “It takes just a couple of seconds to go up and push that button that says ‘Test’ on that smoke alarm and make sure that it goes off. If it doesn’t go off, some of the smoke alarms in your home have batteries in them. You should change them every 6 months, so this would be the time of the year to do that. Now, some have the 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms in their homes and it’s also a good time to check those. It’s even a good time to hold a fire drill with your family, if you have that family plan in place, practice it.”
In 2019, there were 91 residential fire deaths in Illinois, with most of those deaths occurring in homes without working smoke alarms. The National Fire Protection Association reports between 2012-2016, almost 3 out of every 5 home fire deaths in the U.S. resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than 2 of every 5 of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Dead batteries accounted for 25% of smoke alarm failures. In Illinois, 79% of smoke alarms being replaced aren’t working.
It also may be a good time to replace the old battery-powered smoke alarms. A 2017 Illinois law required 10-year sealed smoke alarms be installed in all homes built before 1988 or that do not have hardwired smoke detectors prior to January 1st, 2023.