Beginning Sunday, most of the United States will observe Daylight Saving Time, and if you’re one of the millions of people who will be moving their clocks back an hour, you may already be planning what you’ll do with the extra time you’ll gain.
If you’re a tenant, consider taking a few minutes from that extra hour to make sure your apartment’s smoke detectors are in working order. Fire and safety experts across the United States recommend this, and Energizer, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, has been spreading this important message through a “Change Your Clock Change Your Batteries” campaign for 27 years.
This small task can go a long way toward saving lives in the unfortunate event of a fire at your building. Here are some sobering statistics from a recent report by the National Fire Protection Association:
- Smoke alarms didn’t sound in 48% of reported home fires.
- In 60% of home fire deaths, smoke alarms weren’t there to help… 37% of the time, there weren’t any smoke detectors present and 23% of the time, the smoke alarms didn’t sound.
- When smoke detectors failed, it was usually because the batteries were missing, disconnected, or dead.
- The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when working smoke detectors are present.
If smoke detectors are missing from your apartment or you find they’re not working even with new batteries, talk to your landlord, who may be obligated to replace them under state or local law.
Speaking of which, if you’re a landlord, why not use this opportunity to check that you’re in full compliance with your state and local codes regarding detectors? Such an effort helps keep tenants safe and your property intact. Plus, if a fire occurs, you won’t be open to liability if a tenant or guest claims that your failure to follow safety codes contributed to their injuries.
Smoke detector laws vary in their complexity but typically at least set forth requirements for the number and placement of smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors in a building. If you’ve been referring to a printed version of the law, it might be out of date. California’s and New York City’s smoke detector law, for example, have changed significantly in just the past year. If you’re not already familiar with how to find laws that affect your rental properties, check out Nolo’s “Legal Research” resource for guidance.