RUTH JOHNSON: Change Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Batteries now that You have Sprung Forward

LANSING - With the start of daylight saving time this weekend, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller reminds Michiganders to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms when setting their clocks ahead one hour.

"Working smoke alarms save lives, they double a family’s chance of surviving a home fire,” said Miller. “If your smoke alarms don’t work due to dead or missing batteries, now is the time to put in fresh batteries. Replace old alarms every 10 years, test them monthly and clean them regularly.”

Miller said homes should have smoke alarms outside every bedroom, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Never disable the alarm or borrow a battery from a smoke alarm to use somewhere else. If an alarm “chirps” it’s a warning that the battery is low and needs replacing.

Smoke alarms are either powered by battery (a disposable 9-volt battery or non-replaceable 10-year lithium “long-life” battery) or are hardwired into the home’s electrical system. Hard-wired alarms usually are equipped with a backup battery that may need to be replaced. It’s best to hard-wire alarms into the home’s electrical system. Interconnect all of the alarms so when one goes off, they all go off.

In the kitchen where fires most often occur, install an ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm if it will be within 20 feet of a cooking appliance. Consumers should also install an all-purpose fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen and know how to use it. Make sure it is listed by, and carries the mark of, an accredited testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratory.

In 2014, the top six areas where fires started in Michigan homes were:

  • Kitchen: 1,322 fires, 7 deaths, 78 injuries
  • Living Room: 712 fires, 12 deaths, 16 injuries
  • Garage: 489 fires, 1 death, 12 injuries
  • Bedroom: 469 fires, 3 deaths, 38 injuries
  • Basement: 403 fires, 4 deaths, 4 injuries
  • Laundry: 336 fires, 3 deaths, 5 injuries

Miller also urges citizens to install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms that should be installed in the hallway outside the bedrooms . Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal at relatively low levels in the home. If the CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately, and call 9-1-1.

“Now is also a good time for the family to develop and practice an escape plan that has two ways out in case of fire,” Miller said. “Families with children should conduct a fire drill at night at least twice a year so the kids recognize the sound of the home's smoke alarms and teach them to respond instinctively to their signal.”

Designate a clear meeting place for everyone to gather outside the home in case of a fire or other emergency, and notify the fire department by calling 9-1-1 from a safe location. Help your firefighters by remaining together outside the home and directing them to any endangered family member.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when most families are sleeping. In more than one-third of home fire deaths, no smoke alarms were present. In one-quarter of home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present, but did not sound; and 36 percent of fatal fire victims never wake up before being injured.

Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at for more fire safety information.