Raleigh

Before daylight saving time begins on Sunday, March 13, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey reminds everyone to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

“Regular battery changing is an important step in keeping your home and everyone inside safe,” said Commissioner Causey, who is also the state fire marshal. “Smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half, but they must be in good working order to do their job.”

There were 134 fire deaths in North Carolina in 2021, and in many of those incidents, a working smoke alarm was not inside the home. So far this year, there have been 31 fire deaths.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, families have an average of three minutes to get out of their homes once their smoke alarm sounds due to a fire. However, those vital minutes only happen when the alarms are fully powered up and operational.

“Moving your clock forward or back should be like tying a string around your finger to remind you to check the battery in your smoke alarm,” Commissioner Causey said. “The two practices must go hand in hand.”

The NFPA reports that three in five home fire deaths across the country are due to fires in homes without smoke alarms or working smoke alarms.

Dead batteries caused a quarter of smoke alarm failures. Hardwired power source issues caused 7% of outages. Other failures are due to faulty or incorrectly installed alarms.

In addition to changing or checking the battery in your smoke alarm, Commissioner Causey offers the following fire preparedness tips:

  • Place a smoke detector on each floor of your home outside of sleeping areas. If you keep bedroom doors closed, place a smoke alarm in each bedroom.
  • Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
  • Make and practice an escape plan – know at least two ways to get out of a room, crawl through smoke, and plan where to meet outside.
  • Keep smoke alarms clean by vacuuming them and around them regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
  • Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors or ducts that may interfere with their operation.
  • Never remove the battery from a smoke alarm or deactivate it. If your smoke alarm is giving off “nuisance alarms,” ​​try placing it farther away from kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month to make sure they are working properly.

For more information on smoke alarm safety, visit our website smoke alarms page:

For details on checking smoke detector batteries or installing a smoke detector, contact your local fire department or the office of the state fire marshal at 1.800.634.7854.

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About the Author

Angela Brown

Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economics column.