FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 08, 2018


Change Batteries, Replace Smoke Alarms if Older than 10 Years

Trenton, NJ The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety reminds residents that the return to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 11, 2018 is the best time to change your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm batteries.

In all cases, if a smoke alarm is over 10 years old, replace it. CO alarms should also be replaced in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

"Preparation is key to protecting our families from unwanted tragedies. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are operating properly can be the critical difference that saves lives," said Acting Division of Fire Safety Director and Acting State Fire Marshal Louis Kilmer. "Because fires and carbon monoxide leaks can happen while people are sleeping, it is essential that alarms be checked so that everyone gets the earliest possible warning to evacuate the home."

National Fire Protection Association statistics show that 60 percent of home fire fatalities nationwide result from fires in residences without working smoke alarms and that the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by half in residences with working smoke alarms.

Since residential fires count for more than 80 percent of fire incidents in New Jersey, having properly installed, working and maintained smoke and CO alarms in the home is the first line of defense against fire and CO poisoning.

Alarms can be either hardwired into a home's electrical current or battery powered. People should install smoke and CO alarms, at minimum, on each level of a home, including the basement. Alarms should also be placed outside and inside sleeping areas, recommends Acting Director Kilmer.  

After changing the batteries, alarms can be checked by pressing the test button. Additionally, people should check the alarm’s manufacture date, which is usually found code stamped on the back of the alarm. If the date says 2007 or earlier, Acting Director Kilmer advises the alarm should be replaced.

Improper placement of smoke and CO alarms can be just as problematic and deadly to homeowners. For example, nuisance alarms can be a deterrent for people to maintain working alarms. To avoid false alarms and/or improper operation, avoid installation of smoke and CO alarms 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 alarm; near furnaces of any type; and near the peak of an "A" frame type of ceiling, where "dead air" at the top may prevent smoke from reaching the alarms.

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

In addition to having both smoke and CO alarms in good working order, the Division of Fire Safety also recommends residents frequently practice a home fire escape plan.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the state. The Division is responsible for developing and enforcing the State Uniform Fire Code, engaging the public on community risk reduction strategies, assisting in fire department preparedness, and conducting firefighter training programs. For more information, visit on the DCA website.

Tammori Petty
Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055