When You Change Your Clocks, Also Check Your Emergency Preparedness

PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Matthew J. Brown reminds residents that a good time to check their household emergency preparedness is when Daylight Saving Time starts and ends each year. Turning clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 4 is an opportunity to install smoke, carbon-monoxide, and natural-gas detectors/alarms as well as check existing alarm batteries, make and practice an escape plan, and build an emergency kit.

Working alarms, in particular, are critical to keeping families safe. Three out of every five home fire deaths results from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%). Dead, disconnected, or missing batteries caused almost half (46%) of the smoke-alarm failures.

Here are some tips and reminders to help you better prepare for and handle fires and other home emergencies:

Maintain functional smoke, carbon-monoxide, and natural-gas detectors in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area, and make sure they are on every level of the home. Test your alarms at least once a month by pressing the “test” button. Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old and carbon-monoxide alarms and natural-gas detectors that are older than seven years.

When an alarm sounds in your home, leave the building IMMEDIATELY and call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Do not return to attempt rescue or to retrieve belongings. GET OUT! When first responders arrive, notify them of any people or pets believed to be inside and of any possible hazards within the building. Firefighters are equipped and trained to enter these dangerous environments – you are not.

Talk with your family about what you will do in case of emergency and how you will evacuate your home. The plan should include two ways out of every room, and everyone should know where the safe meeting place is outside the home. Practice the plan at least twice a year.

Create an emergency supply kit and replace the supplies that will expire in the next six months, allowing you to use the old supplies before they expire. Items in a kit might include water, food, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, pet supplies, medical supplies, and prescription medications.