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New smoke alarm law aims to keep people safer

Not even the thought of the terrifying sound of a smoke alarm can make most people check their batteries regularly.

“I just take it for granted that it works,” Jeff Gedney said.

Gedney represents a good majority. Nearly one-thirds of Californians surveyed who lived in their homes for at least a decade have smoke alarms more than 10 years old.

“I forget its there. I don’t think about it most of the time,” he said.

A new law went into affect July 1st for battery manufacturers and it offers an alternative that requires less maintenance.

“All the new ones are a ten year battery life minimum. They don’t run out in ten years but they last at least ten years. That includes testing them once a month for ten years,” Cal Fire Fire Captain Lucas Spelman said.

The National Fire Protection Association reports two-thirds of all home fires occur in homes without a smoke alarm or with one that isn’t working. A long-life battery sealed inside an alarm makes it virtually tamper-proof and eliminates the risk associated with disabling the alarm.

“It makes it simpler. It’s not a hard wire. You put two screws in hang it up and you’re done. In ten years throw it out and get a new one. It’ll start chirping after ten years and you know its time to replace it,” Home Depot electrician specialist David Cloutier said.

Walmart and Home Depot sell these batteries.

Home Depot sells both battery operated and wireless smoke detectors. The cheapest I found – $19.97.

However, saving lives and homes — priceless.

“I absolutely have, luckily only a few in my career. It’s unfortunate to think something that it was possible that you could have saved a life with something under $20.”

We’ve seen the devastation these flames can cause too often, even just this month. An attic fire in the beginning of October in Palm Springs left nearly a dozen people without homes.

“Code says you have to have on in the hallway and in the bedroom,” Cloutier said.

“Fifty percent better chance of survival with a working smoke alarm,” Captain Spelman said.

Odds that surely should motivate people to check these life savers more often.

KESQ News Team

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