Residents reminded to change their battery with the time

Photo By Rick Harris
Firefighter Andy Hardin, left, of the Elizabethton Fire Department checks the battery in the smoke detector of Elizabethton resident Robbie Dunlap, right.

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
As the end of October approaches, area residents are being reminded that a battery may save their lives.
October is Fire Prevention Awareness month, and fire departments across the state are working with a program through the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's office that is geared toward reminding residents to change the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year.
"The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's office has entered into a partnership with the Energizer Battery Company and is making available Energizer Max 9-volt batteries for distribution to all counties in the state," Elizabethton Fire Department Chief Mike Shouse states in a press release. "Tennessee currently ranks second nationwide in the number of fire deaths annually. This partnership will help citizens to participate in the 'Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery' program which encourages families to adopt the life-saving habit of changing smoke alarm batteries when changing clocks each fall and spring."
The "Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery" program started 16 years ago when Energizer partnered with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, according to information from Energizer. "In the mid-1980s, Energizer recognized a disturbing trend: home fire deaths and injuries were increasing despite widespread use of smoke alarms. Research showed non-working smoke alarms were often responsible," states information from Energizer. "The company realized smoke alarm neglect was not being addressed on a large scale and that a massive public education program was needed. Representatives of Energizer formed a coalition with the IAFC and fire departments nationwide and proposed the 'Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery,' public education campaign."
As a part of the program, Energizer has donated 9-volt batteries to fire departments across the nation to be distributed to residents who are elderly individuals on a fixed income or to very low-income families free of charge. According to Shouse, 350 batteries were donated to Carter County and are set to be distributed by the EFD and the seven volunteer fire departments serving the county.
According to information from Energizer, despite the efforts of the program and the fact that many homes now have smoke alarms, many people are still at risk in a fire. "Although smoke alarms are present in 94 percent of American homes, 20 percent do not work, mostly because of dead or missing batteries," a report by the company states. "That means roughly 19 million homes are at risk due to non-working smoke alarms and another six million homes are at risk due to no smoke alarms.
In the United States, approximately 80 percent of fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms. "If a fire occurs, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half by providing an early warning and critical extra seconds to escape," the report by Energizer states.
The National Fire Alarm Code recommends a minimum of one smoke alarm on each level of a home, including one inside each bedroom and one outside each sleeping area. In addition to changing smoke alarm batteries twice a year, it is recommended that residents replace the smoke alarm itself every 10 years.
Residents who are elderly and living on a fixed income or for families who live on a very low income who are interested in receiving a battery through the program are advised to call their local fire department to see if one is available.