Free smoke alarms, courtesy of Evesham Fire-Rescue

Evesham Fire-Rescue is encouraging residents to check the age of your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. In 2011, Evesham Fire-Rescue has experienced a 48 percent increase in false activations of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms compared to the same period of time in 2010.

Lieutenant Carl Bittenbender of Evesham Fire-Rescue reports “false alarms can be attributed to a combination of low batteries, dirty/dusty alarms and out-of-date alarms. Carbon monoxide alarms gained popularity about 8 to 10 years ago and laws requiring them to be installed in dwellings quickly followed. However, those detectors are now coming of age and falsely activating. Residents become concerned, and rightly so, and activate 911 for the fire department to respond.”

Bittenbender elaborated “manufacturers of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms publish guidelines for the replacement of their particular alarms with most manufacturers recommending replacement every 5 to 10 years. Remember, that for a few dollars you can have a brand new smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with the most up-to-date technology to protect your family. When Evesham firefighters arrive at these activations, they confirm that there is no carbon monoxide or fire in the home and then provide education to our residents on proper maintenance of these important devices.”

If your battery-powered smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm begins to emit an intermittent warning or chirping, or displays a digital readout of ‘LB,’ this indicates a low battery condition and residents do not need to activate 911 for these alarms. Residents can and should replace the batteries on the detectors and see if the condition remedies itself. When in alarm mode, these devices will sound loudly and continuously and it will be apparent that the alarm is indicating a suspected fire or carbon monoxide incident — if this occurs, residents should activate 911.

All smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home should be tested once a month and their batteries replaced twice a year when you change your clocks. Every family should develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year. According to the United States Fire Administration, about 2,700 people lose their lives in residential fires each year. Most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, not as a result of burns. Half of all deaths and injuries occur in fires that occur between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. while victims are asleep. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms provide an early warning giving residents a chance to escape.

Evesham Fire-Rescue can provide smoke detectors to residents free of charge by stopping at one of our stations — Main Street, Kings Grant, Kettle Run — or our Fire Administration Office at the Evesham Township building. Unfortunately, we do not supply Carbon Monoxide alarms.

Smoke detectors will also be available free of charge at upcoming Evesham Fire-Rescue open houses on Main Street, Saturday Oct. 1 10 a.m. during the Evesham Fall Festival, the Kettle Run on Wednesday Oct. 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Kings Grant on Thursday Oct. 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Fire apparatus, fire prevention giveaways and food will be available at the open houses.