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March 31, 2000
Change your clock, change your SMOKE ALARM battery
Toronto Fire Services - When you change your clocks this weekend (2 a.m.
Sunday, April 2) be sure that you change your smoke alarm batteries too. A
smoke alarm battery is a small price to protect the life of you and your loved
ones. Each spring and fall are good times to change your smoke alarm
batteries. Toronto Fire Services recommends both photoelectric type and
ionization type smoke alarms installed on every level of your home and in each
sleeping area.

Ontario Building and Fire Codes require working smoke alarms to be operational
in all dwelling units throughout Ontario. Fire can spread quickly and when you
least expect it while you and your loved ones are asleep in bed at night. A
working smoke alarm can double your chances of escaping a fire. A working
smoke alarm on every level of your home can alert you and your family of the
danger and provide you with a chance to escape. That is why both the Ontario
Fire Code and the Ontario Building Code requires that all homes in Ontario have
working smoke alarms. Remember - installing and maintaining working smoke
alarms is not only a good idea - it's the law.

1. Protect yourself and your family.
Most fire deaths occur in homes where there are no working smoke alarms.
Remember, only working smoke alarms give you a chance of early warning that can
save your life.

2. Smoke alarms save lives.
Most fatal fires occur at night when people are asleep. Often, victims never
wake up. Working smoke alarms will detect smoke and sound an alarm to alert
you, giving you a precious window of opportunity to escape.

3. Buying the best alarms.
There are many types of smoke alarms, each with different features. Alarms can
be electrically connected, battery powered or a combination of both. A pause
feature to reduce nuisance alarms is highly recommended. The Ontario Building
Code (1) requires smoke alarms to conform to Underwriters'
Laboratories of Canada as per CAN/ULC-S531-M, "Standard for Smoke-Alarms", to
be installed in each dwelling unit. The Ontario Fire Code (1)
requires owners to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition.

Before purchasing smoke alarms, read the description of each alarm and the
accompanying instructions very carefully to determine whether the alarm is best
for the use intended and to understand what limitations the alarm may have.
Any questions about the alarm should be directed to the manufacturer or its
authorized sales representative. Toronto Fire Services does not recommend the
purchase or use of any specific alarm and will not guarantee or otherwise
warrant the quality or the results of any alarm so purchased or used.

4. One smoke alarm is not enough.
Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home and near sleeping
areas. If you or your loved ones sleep with bedroom doors closed, install
working smoke alarms inside each bedroom.

5. Where to install smoke alarms.
Because smoke rises, you should place working smoke alarms on the ceiling. If
you cannot do this, place them high up on a wall, according to manufacturers'
instructions. There are certain locations to avoid such as near bathrooms,
heating appliances, windows, above cooking areas or close to ceiling fans.

6. Test your smoke alarm regularly.
Test your smoke alarms at least every month, using the alarm test button. Once
a month, test your alarms using smoke from a smouldering cotton string. Follow
your owner's manual that explains, "How to Test Your Smoke Alarms."

7. Change your clock, change your battery.
Install a new battery of the proper type at least once a year. If the low
battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. We change our clocks
each spring and fall so this a good time to change your smoke alarm batteries
too, or change the battery each year on a designated family member's birthday.

8. Gently vacuum alarm every six months.
Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the inside of a battery
powered unit using the soft bristle brush. If electrically connected, shut off
the power and vacuum the outside vents only. Restore power and test units when

9. Smoke alarms don't last forever.
Smoke alarms do wear out, so if you think your alarms are more than 10 years
old, replace them with new ones. There are hard wired smoke alarms and smoke
alarms with a 10-year Lithium battery on the market now.

10. Plan your escape.
Make sure that everyone knows the sound of smoke alarms and what to do if a
fire occurs. Regularly practice your home fire escape plan. Know two ways out
of every room and have a prearranged meeting place outside. Once outside, stay
out of the smoky, burning building and call Toronto Fire Services, 9-1-1, from
your cell phone, a neighbour's home or a payphone.

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