DCA Division of Fire Safety Reminds New Jersey Residents to Check Smoke Alarms and Change Batteries


TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lori Grifa today reminded all New Jersey residents to check their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and change the batteries when they change their clocks to Daylight Savings time this weekend.

"Emergencies can affect anyone, and preparation is the key to protecting our families and homes," said Commissioner Grifa. "Making it a point to check these alarms when we change our clocks can help prevent needless injuries and deaths."

People should install, test and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in their homes. With the change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, people will move their clocks forward one hour. The DCA's Division of Fire Safety strongly recommends that households take this opportunity to replace the batteries in smoke and CO detectors. Smoke alarms should be placed, at minimum, on each floor of a home, outside of all sleeping areas, and in the basement. Fire Safety also suggests detectors in each bedroom. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be placed near sleeping areas.

A National Fire Protection Association statistic shows nationwide nearly 66 percent of home fire fatalities in the years 2003 to 2006 came as a direct result of fire in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Of the smoke alarms that weren’t working, 75 percent had a battery that was dead, missing or disconnected.

"A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a reported fire in half," Commissioner Grifa said. "It is one of the most cost-effective investments a household can make in protecting loved ones from the dangers of fire."

After making certain the alarm battery is replenished and the old battery properly recycled, the Division of Fire Safety recommends checking the unit by pressing the test button. People should replace any smoke alarms older than 10 years and any CO detectors older than five years. Programs are available for households that cannot afford new alarms. For example, Fire Safety participates annually in the "Operation 7: Save a Life" campaign run by WABC-TV, Channel 7 in New York City. The television station has provided more than 150,000 smoke alarms to the Division of Fire Safety for distribution to families in need over the past 10 years.

Improper placement of smoke alarms can be just as problematic and deadly to homeowners. Nuisance alarms can be a deterrent for people to maintain working alarms. To avoid false alarms and/or improper operation, avoid installation of smoke detectors in the following areas: kitchens; bathrooms; near forced air ducts used for heating or air conditioning, where air movement may prevent smoke from reaching the detector; near furnaces of any type; and the peak of an "A" frame type of ceiling, where "dead air" at the top may prevent smoke from reaching the detectors.

Smoke and CO alarms should also be cleaned on a regular basis.

In addition to having both smoke and CO alarms in good working order, Fire Safety also recommends practicing a family home fire escape plan and preparing an emergency supply kit that includes items such as water, food, flashlights, batteries and blankets.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.

For more information, log on to http://www.state.nj.us/dca/dfs/ on the DCA website.