Ask a firefighter

Posted: Monday, April 07, 2003

Question: How often should smoke detector batteries be changed?

Answer: Sunday marked the time of year that we "spring ahead," changing clocks forward one hour. In conjunction with that, I want to request everyone take a moment to ensure the safety of his or her family. I, along with Central Emergency Services, the Kenai Peninsula Fire Chiefs Association and other area emergency service organizations, want you to change your clock and change your battery the battery in your smoke detectors.

Each day, an average of three kids die in home fires. That is 1,100 children each year. On top of that, 3,600 children are injured in house fires. Ninety percent of the child fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.

Closer to home (in Alaska and in the Soldotna-Sterling-Ridgeway-Kalifornsky Beach area, all of the past injuries and deaths occurred as a result of fire occurring in a home without a working smoke detector. A working smoke detector reduces the risk of dying in a home fire.

I am encouraging each of you to arm yourself against home fires by taking some basic home fire safety precautions, including installing fresh batteries in your smoke detectors and testing them. Here is a checklist of activities to help you prepare for a home fire and protect yourself and your love ones.

Change your smoke detector batteries Change the batteries at least twice a year. An easy way to remember is to do it when you change your clock.

Check your smoke detector Make sure you have at least one on each level of the home and one in each bedroom. Test each detector by pushing the "test button" to ensure it works properly.

Plan and practice your escape Create at least two ways out and practice them with the family. Children are at double risk of dying in a home fire, because they often become scared and confused during a fire. Make sure your children understand that a smoke detector alarm signals a home fire and that they recognize its alarm.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local fire and emergency service organization.

Today's question was answered by Central Emergency Services Fire Marshal Gary Hale. He can be reached at or by calling 262-4792.

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