Every six months, Iowans are reminded to change the batteries in their smoke alarms when they change their clocks for Daylight Saving Time. This week, Iowans who need a hand with their smoke alarms can get help through the Red Cross and their nearest fire station. Greg Buelow, spokesman for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department, says they’re calling the campaign “Battery Up.”
“The program is designed primarily for senior citizens and also physically-challenged citizens who need assistance installing and maintaining their smoke alarms,” Buelow says. “We don’t want somebody falling off a ladder but at the same time, we want to make sure they have a working smoke alarm.”
Red Cross volunteers are working with firefighters to help replace old or missing batteries in smoke alarms and he says they’ll also perform a home fire safety inspection. He says smoke alarms save lives. “Elderly citizens, especially those over age 65, are twice as likely to die in a fire so they need that early warning,” Buelow says. “It really comes down to decreased mobility as we get older. Children under age five are the other group that’s most vulnerable to dying in a house fire.”
A working smoke alarm can decrease a family’s risk of dying in a fire by nearly 50%. Buelow says working smoke alarms were confirmed in only one-third of all residential fires last year in Cedar Rapids. Buelow recommends dual-sensor smoke alarms which use two different detection methods for identifying fires.
“It’s a misnomer and a fallacy to believe that fire and smoke are going to wake you up,” Buelow says. “Most fatal fires occur at night when people are sound asleep and a smoke alarm is really the best way of making sure somebody would wake up and be able to get out safely.” Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend. Iowans need to set their clocks an hour ahead before going to bed on Saturday night.