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Spring Forward – Change your clock, change your batteries

March 07, 2015

Historically, Daylight Savings Time (or “Summer Time”) is a way of making better use of the daylight in the evenings by setting clock forward one hour during the longer days of summer and back again in the fall.  On March 8th, 2015 our clocks moved ahead – a sign of the long awaited spring and summer!

A great habit to get into is while you are busy changing the clocks in your home and car, is to test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

WORKING SMOKE ALARMS ARE A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

Thinking of removing that battery in your smoke detector because it goes off too many times?  Think again.  If your battery is already out, put it back in immediately! SIGNIFICANT FINES ARE APPLICABLE. 

All houses, condos, apartments, hotels and university residences in Ontario with fuel-burning devices such as a fireplace, gas stove, water heater or furnace or if the home is attached to a garage MUST have working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide warning devices according to provincial law with a penalty of $235 for non-compliance.  It has been law for all NEW residential buildings in Alberta and British Columbia since 2006 and is a best practice overall to prevent unnecessary tragedy.

  • Condo Board of Directors:

According to previous Ontario court rulings, the responsibility for the installation and operation of smoke detectors is joint, shared by both the owner of the unit and the condo board of directors.  Alberta law states the owner holds responsibility but much discussion has been held on the definition of “owner” – is it solely the unit owner or the owner of the corporation as well? Even if not law, this is best practice for everyone across the country.

Please develop a plan, if not already in place, to confirm working detectors are present.  This can be by means of a signed form returned to the board, a door-to-door inspection or whatever makes sense for your community.  You may wish to speak to your Property Manager for ideas.  Avoid the loss of life AND protect the condominium corporation from liability.

  • Condo Unit Owners:

Please consider this post a reminder of your responsibility to ensure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your unit.  Safety is everyone’s concern and its best to be proactive. Please ensure you take his matter seriously and respond accordingly ensuring smoke detectors are installed, in perfect working condition with fresh batteries.

  • Residential Rental Landlords:

Landlords are legally responsible for smoke alarm and CO detector maintenance via mandatory, routine inspections in residential rental units with tenant cooperation.  Legal requirements and record keeping vary between provinces and even by type of building but generally speaking, routine tests should be performed as well as during changes in tenancy, following any electrical renovations and even after tenants have been away from their unit for certain duration.

  • Tenants:

In addition to cooperating with routine inspections, it is reasonable to expect tenants to advise landlords of low battery indicators, power light malfunctions, if the detectors are damaged and if they have been away from their unit for long periods of time.  Your lease agreement should outline the specifics to your building.

INSTALLATION TIPS:

  • Install detectors on every level of you home and outside each sleeping area
  • CO alarms are NOT a substitute for smoke alarms.  Install BOTH types of alarms in you home.

MAINTENANCE TIPS:

  • Test alarms at least once a month.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If alarm “chirps” or “beeps” to indicate low battery, replace immediately!

CO DETECTOR ALARM TIPS:

  • Turn off appliances or other sources of combustion at once.
  • Immediately get fresh air into the premises by opening doors and windows.
  • Call a qualified technician and have problem fixed before restarting appliances.
  • If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (headaches, dizziness, vomiting) call the fire department and immediately move to a location that has fresh air.
  • Do a head count to be sure all persons are accounted for.
  • Do not re-enter the premises until it has been aired out and the problem corrected.

SMOKE ALARM TIPS:

  • Have a home escape plan and make sure that everyone knows what to do.
  • Practice the per-planned fire drill at least twice a year.
  • Identify two ways to get out of every room.
  • Decide on a meeting place outside the home.

NUISANCE ALARM TIPS (When alarms sound with no real danger):

  • This could be caused due to improper location, wear and tear, poor maintenance or early installation.
  • Don’t install smoke alarms near the kitchen or bathrooms.
  • Replace smoke alarms at least every 10 years.
  • Regularly dust and vacuum smoke alarms.  More false alarms occur in dirty or greasy environments as dirt, dust and cobwebs can collect in the unit making it more sensitive.
  • To avoid contamination during construction or renovation, keep them covered or install a new one after work is finished.