Battery Safety

"CHIRP" . . . What does it mean when your smoke alarm starts to "chirp"? It means the battery is dying and must be replaced immediately. Unfortunately, some people pull out the dying battery and try to remember to get a new one some day. Or they're out of town when the battery chirps to death and they never know they're in danger.

A dead battery is a real killer. Many people have lost their lives in home fires because of dead smoke alarm batteries. Smoldering fires produce large quantities of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and fatal gas. If you're asleep when the gas enters your room, you'll probably never wake up. But your smoke alarm never sleeps, unless it has a dead battery.

Make it a habit to test your smoke alarm battery monthly. Push the test button with a broom handle. While you're at it, add your smoke alarm to your regular cleaning schedule. Remember to gently vacuum the outside of the alarm to remove dust and cobwebs every month.

Replace batteries at least once a year. Always change the battery as soon as it "chirps" or when your monthly test reveals a dead battery. Once a year - pick a date such as Christmas, a birthday or in the fall when you change your clock from daylight savings time - replace the old battery with a fresh one.

A fire death caused by the absence of an inexpensive battery is senseless. To prevent such a tragedy, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has a "Battery for Life" program. Any citizen in Fairfax County may contact the Fire and Rescue Department to make an appointment to receive a free battery for every smoke alarm in their home.

To receive your free batteries, just schedule an appointment with us for a Home Safety Check. We'll send a firefighter to your home to help you identify fire hazards and make recommendations on home fire safety. Firefighters conducting the check also explain proper procedures to routinely test and clean smoke alarms. In exchange for this important opportunity to discuss home safety, the firefighter will give you a free battery for each smoke alarm in your home.

"Battery for Life" has a double meaning. Not only can a battery in your smoke alarm save your life, but we are making a lifetime commitment to seeing that it does. Each time one of your batteries dies, call us and we'll come replace it with a new one, FREE!

If you have any questions please call your local fire and rescue station or the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Public Affairs and Life Safety Education Section.

Public Affairs and Life Safety Education Section
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
4100 Chain Bridge Road Fairfax, VA 22030
703-246-3801 or TTY 711

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