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Firefighters, Red Cross Stress Importance Of Checking Smoke Detectors

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As you turned back your clocks this weekend for daylight saving time, hopefully you remembered to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.

It is a simple step that can save your life.

Firefighters and the Red Cross are taking that message to the streets.

When fire strikes, the simple beeps from a smoke detector can mean the difference between life and death.

Firefighters say two-thirds of all fire fatalities are in homes or buildings without working smoke detectors.

"Having working smoke detectors in your home cuts your chances of dying by fire in half," Swissvale Fire Department Chief Clyde Wilhelm said.

Chief Wilhelm, along with other members of the department and the Red Cross are going door-to-door to spread the message about the importance of the small devices.

In Swissvale, senior citizens are the most vulnerable population when it comes to flames and smoke.

Firefighters want to make sure seniors have working alarms in all the right places.

"Thirty years ago, there generally wasn't a requirement for smoke detectors in the home and then it became one per floor. Now, under the latest revision of the codes that have been accepted for a few years, you are required to have one on each floor, one outside the sleeping areas and one on the inside of each bedroom," Chief Wilhelm said.

Adding alarms and checking the batteries aren't enough. You also have to make sure the detectors in your home aren't outdated.

"For about the last eight or 10 years, the manufacturer date has been stamped on the back on the smoke detector. So, if your smoke detector does not have a manufacturer date, it should be changed and updated because as a smoke detector gets to be 10 years old, there is a 30 percent failure rate," Chief Wilhelm said.

That rate increases as the device gets older.

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