Home fire safety: new advice from the experts

Did you replace your smoke alarm batteries last week during daylight savings? Traditionally, fire prevention authorities suggest that daylight savings is a good time to check your smoke alarms … it’s suggested that when you change your clocks, you also get in the habit of replacing your smoke alarm batteries, a simple bit of housekeeping that might just save your life. So if you remembered, you should be protected, right? Maybe not!

This year, you may want to go one step further because firefighters have some important new advice on smoke detectors. The nation’s largest firefighter union is suggesting that you do more than just change your batteries – they are suggesting you change the type of smoke alarm that you use. Deputy Chief Jay Fleming of the Boston Fire Department states that around 50% of everyone who dies in a Massachusetts fire dies when the smoke detector operates, and in the vast majority of those cases, they are killed by smoldering fires.

Most homes are equipped with ionization smoke alarms, which are good at detecting flames but photoelectric smoke alarms are more sensitive to smoldering, smoky fires. A smoldering fire can be very dangerous before a traditional fire alarm will sound. Case in point: a recent smoldering kitchen fire that killed a Cleveland resident without tripping the smoke detector.

No home should be without a smoke detector. Some fire authorities suggest the belt-and-suspenders method of having both types of fire alarms installed. You can get insurance to protect your property but no amount of insurance can replace a life.