ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland residents are running out of time to install new smoke detectors before a new law takes effect on New Year's Day.
The law requires people with smoke detectors that run off of 9-volt batteries to install new ones that have a 10-year lifespan.
The measure looks to prevent casualties from older fire alarms with dead batteries. Officials said homeowners will typically remove batteries to silence an alarm when its low-battery chirp begins, but often forget to put new batteries into the device. The new alarms are sealed, making them tamper-resistant, and have a "hush" feature that will temporarily silence it during a non-emergency situation.
The new alarms will automatically reset after a few minutes, and in the case of an actual fire, the silence feature will be overridden. The low-battery chirp will only sound when the alarm is reaching the end of its 10-year lifespan and needs to be replaced.
Owners of a home built before Jan. 1, 1989 must make sure all smoke detectors are upgraded. Landlords and apartment complexes are required to upgrade alarms if they are more than 10 years old, if they malfunction or whenever there is a change in occupancy.
The Capital Gazette reports some 800,000 homes will be impacted by the law, which was passed back in 2013.
If officials find a home without the proper smoke detector required by the new law a resident would face a misdemeanor charge if they don't comply with the requirements within five days.
For more information on the new smoke alarm law, click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.