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Test, inspect, and replace broken or expired smoke alarms as you change the clock this weekend

80% of pre-existing smoke alarms in homes that received new smoke alarms from the “Be Alarmed!” program were non-functional or expired

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is reminding Illinoisans to test, inspect expiration dates, change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and replace any broken or expired alarms while turning their clock back as daylight saving time ends this weekend.

“It’s more important than ever due to the limited amount of time – 3 minutes or less – to escape a home fire that smoke alarms are working in your home. The time change serves as a bi-annual reminder to test smoke alarms and review your families fire escape plans,” said Acting Illinois State Fire Marshal Dale Simpson. “As the cold weather months arrive, I encourage everyone to test and inspect smoke alarms and CO alarms more often. It’s simple: working smoke alarms save lives!”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2014-2018, almost three out of every five home fire deaths in the U.S. resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, two of every five of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Dead batteries caused 26% of the smoke alarm failures. Replacing alarms that have missing batteries or are either expired or broken with new ten-year sealed detectors will help reduce residential fire deaths across the state.

A 2017, Illinois law required ten-year sealed smoke alarms be installed in all homes built before 1988 or that do not have hardwired smoke detectors by January 1, 2023.

“Be Alarmed!” is a fire safety education and smoke alarm installation program administered cooperatively between the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM). This program provides ten-year, concealed battery smoke alarms to Illinois residents through their local fire departments and staff can aid with obtaining and installing these required alarms. Smoke alarms are required on every floor of a house and within 15 feet of every bedroom.

The program was developed to educate Illinois residents on the dangers of residential fires and how to prevent fires from occurring in the home, as well as to ensure there are properly installed, working smoke alarms in the homes. By providing 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, the program ensures that the power source of alarms cannot be removed from the unit and, if properly maintained, will last the life of the device.

In 2021, 217 Illinois fire departments from 61 counties participated in the “Be Alarmed” program and installed 3,864 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms. It was found that 80% of pre-existing smoke alarms in homes that received new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms were non-functional or expired. Thanks to this program, 2,268 (1,027 high-risk) Illinois residents were educated on smoke alarm maintenance, home fire safety, and home fire escape plans as well as protected by new smoke alarms.

For more information on the “Be Alarmed!” program visit: https://www.ifsa.org/programs/alarms.

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