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Oregonians Encouraged to Test Smoke Alarms When Changing Their Clocks
Richard Hoover
Office: (503) 934-8217

Oregon State Fire Marshal Randy Simpson urges residents to test their smoke alarms when changing their clocks to standard time Sunday, November 7th. Many Oregonians have smoke alarms with 10-year batteries so the old slogan, ‘Change your clock, Change your battery' may not be correct for all households.
Smoke alarm laws in Oregon are different from most other states. Since 1999, law requires ionization-only smoke alarms sold in the state to have a hush feature; and if an ionization-only smoke alarm is also solely battery-operated, it must also come with a 10-year battery.
Although Oregon law does not require other types of alarms to have 10-year batteries, many other types of smoke alarms are now sold with a 10-year battery. This means if household members automatically follow the national slogan, they could be removing a good battery and replacing it at extra expense. However, some alarms with 10-year batteries are tamper proof. If you test the alarm and it doesn't work, you need to replace the entire alarm.
Maintaining your alarm includes testing it to be sure the battery is working, vacuuming it to get rid of dust and cobwebs, and inspecting the alarm to determine if it is 10 years old or older. If so, you should replace the entire alarm.
"Oregonians should first test their smoke alarm battery before automatically replacing it," says Oregon State Fire Marshal Randy Simpson. "Long-life batteries have a life span of up to 10 years. If your alarm has one of these batteries, it may not need replacing every time you change your clock. If you do need to replace your battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions to be sure you replace it with the correct type."
From 2005 through 2009 in Oregon, 39% of residential fires* had no smoke alarm present or the smoke alarm did not operate. These fires resulted in 46 fatalities, 283 injuries, and more than $105 million in property loss.
Working smoke alarms provide an early warning to a fire, allowing you vital minutes to escape, and increase your chances of surviving a fire.
Additional safety tips:
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each sleeping area and outside each sleeping area
  • Replace smoke alarms 10 years old or older
  • Hard-wired alarms (those connected directly to home electrical systems) should have battery back-ups
  • Never disconnect or remove batteries from smoke alarms for other uses
  • Make a home escape plan and practice it
For more smoke alarm and fire safety information, contact your local fire department or visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/CommEd_SA_Progam.shtml#information_for_the_Public
* Smoke alarm data is available for only 44% of the total 26,007 residential fires during this period.