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The Tonawandas

March 7, 2014

Fire officials urge safety checks

Tonawanda News — With the change in daylight savings time coming early Sunday morning, fire officials are hammering home the message of vigilance pertaining the importance of replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 

The National Fire Protection Association this week released a statement urging residents nationwide to test various preventative fire measures, while reminding those who are on the fence over the issue to look at the facts: About 65 percent of all deaths linked to fires can be attributed to alarms that were not functional because they did not work or because batteries were not replaced. 

And North Tonawanda has seen its own share of grave reminders, including a 2012 fire on Third Avenue that killed two residents. A Niagara Parkway family were also rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning in January after exposure to high levels that could have taken their lives, despite the presence of a detector that was later discovered to have malfunctioned. 

North Tonawanda Fire Chief John Lapham said the risks of not checking smoke and CO equipment twice yearly aren’t worth it, with batteries or even a new device rarely running more than $10.  

“The smoke detectors only have a life span that’s as good as the battery,” he said. “It’s a big deal and it takes all of 30 second to change the batteries in the detector. It could save your life.” 

The NFPA said alarms should be tested once a month, while those 10 years or older should be replaced. The organization also advises that smoke alarms that do not respond to tests should be changed immediately. A “chirping” sound also indicates whether the batteries require replacement. 

Lapham said CO detectors should be placed outside bedrooms and in living areas on every level of a home. The North Tonawanda Fire Department also offers free smoke alarms for senior citizens and those struggling to make ends meet. 

“If someone needs a smoke detector we will supply one,” he said. 

Daylight savings time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday. 

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