ESTEVAN - The Estevan Fire Rescue Service, and fire departments throughout the country, are urging the public to “Learn the Sounds of Safety” as part of Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 3-9.
“This is actually a fairly encompassing thing, but one thing they’re working on is just the sounds of smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide alarms or dual detection heads,” said Estevan Fire Chief Dale Feser. “Learning what to do and what those beeps mean on those particular devices.”
If there is a continued set of three loud beeps, it means there is a smoke or fire, and people need to get outside immediately, call 911 and remain outdoors.
A single chirp every 30-60 seconds means the battery is slow and must be changed. Chirping that happens after the battery has been switched means the alarm is at the end of its service life, and the unit has to be replaced.
“When they’re talking about the 10-year service life, that is from the date of manufacturing, which is found on the backside of the smoke alarm, and not from the date that you purchased the alarm itself,” said Feser.
If someone purchased a smoke alarm five years ago, it could have sat on a shelf for five years before it was purchased, so it would be halfway to the end of its service life.
Feser stressed that all smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years, unless manufacturer’s recommendations state otherwise.
“There are some that have batteries that last the entire 10 years, so you definitely want to make sure you’re reviewing the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations before you throw them away,” said Feser.
For a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, there is a set of four loud beeps instead of three if carbon monoxide is present in the home. Again, people are asked to go outside, call 911 and remain outdoors. The fire department will go in and take a look to see what’s happening.
A single chirp every 30 seconds means the battery is low and needs to be replaced.
CO alarms also make an end of life sound that varies with different manufacturers. Feser noted the CO alarms also typically have a shelf life of 10 years from the date of manufacturing, not the date of purchase.
Many smoke alarms are uniquely designed to catch the attention of the hearing impaired by using a strobe light and other means.
“When a smoke alarm sounds, strobe lights flash at the same time to alert the people who are deaf or hard of hearing of a possible fire or carbon monoxide alarm,” said Feser.
If they’re asleep, a pillow or bed shaker can be used to wake them up and alert them of fire conditions.
“This device is activated by the sound of a standard smoke alarm, and people who are deaf may find that the shaker, combined with the high-intensity strobe light, is able to wake them up to alert them of an emergency occurring,” said Feser.
The strobe lights and shakers might have to be specially ordered.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the fire department won’t have many in-person activities. In the past they have held an open house at the fire hall, or have gone door to door to check smoke alarms, but that won’t be possible this year.
There has been discussion of an outdoor activity by showcasing fire trucks and demonstrating techniques to stop, drop and roll, but that will be based on the availability of the firefighters.
During the week, the fire department will also be posting public education and fire safety tips on its social media feeds.