UTICA, N.Y. - This year a new law is taking effect in New York State aimed at increasing your odds of escaping during a fire.
If you've been tempted before to take the batteries out of your smoke detector, this new law will prevent you from doing that.
“If you have a smoke detector that has a replaceable battery, once you take that down, the one that you replace it with has to be a 10-year sealed smoke detector," Lt. Joseph Puleo, Utica Fire Department said. “This new law takes the human factor out of that. Now you place a smoke detector on the wall and it can’t be tampered with."
This law was passed in June 2015 with an effective date of April 1, 2019. The law requires all smoke detectors in New York State to be powered by a 10-year, sealed, non-removable battery or hardwired to the home. Retailers will no longer be able to sell anything other than these devices.
Puleo says it is the homeowners responsibility to replace these detectors and to make sure they are in the proper places. So if you're planning on selling or renting your home, you’ll need to swap out your old smoke detectors for upgraded 10-year sealed models.
According to the Fire Code of New York State, smoke alarms should be located in each room used for sleeping purposes and in every hallway. A carbon monoxide detector should be on every floor of the home as well. These 10-year detectors do cost more, but they last longer.
Puleo says following these codes are more important now than ever.
"Today's fires, you have about between two and four minutes to exit your home, where as 30 years ago, it was up to 10 minutes," Puleo said. "Fires burn faster now because of the materials we use to create things, a lot of things have hydrocarbons in them which is made out of plastic. Plastic burns very hot and burns very fast and the smoke that's created from plastic is extremely bad for the human body."
Another important step to keeping your family safe is having an escape plan.
"We teach how to have an escape plan," Puleo said. "We tell the kids, you have an escape plan at school, you do a fire drill at school, right? Well we ask them to have a fire drill at home and how to have a plan with their family at home because if they practice, it makes perfect."
While many of us think it will never happen to us, Puleo wants you to remeber that it could.
"Your smoke detector that you place on the wall is your insurance," Puleo said. "It's to protect your family, it's to protect your children, it's to protect your loved ones."