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Daylight savings: Change your clocks, change your batteries

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 11:24 a.m. CDT

At 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, people will turn their clocks back one hour to observe the end of daylight saving time. The Sycamore Fire Department urges local residents to replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at the same time.

Batteries in a smoke alarm should be changed at least twice a year, even if the alarm is hardwired into the home’s electrical system. Because clocks are changed twice a year for daylight saving time, it is an easy way to remember it is time to change the batteries.

In a study by the National Fire Prevention Association, nearly 96 percent of households reported having some kind of fire alarm, yet the U.S. Fire Administration reports residential fires make up nearly 83 percent of civilian fire deaths. The culprit is usually a disconnected or dead battery.

Smoke alarms should be tested once a month by holding down the test button, and should be vacuumed once a year, as dust and cobwebs impair their sensitivity to smoke. Never paint over a smoke alarm. The fire department recommends alarms be replaced after 10 years.

Smoke alarms save lives almost every day. Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms increase the chance of surviving a home fire by 50 percent.

Prepare and practice a fire escape plan, including going to a family meeting place outside the home. Just like schools practice fire drills, families should practice what to do if their smoke alarms go off. Crawl low to the ground under the smoke and exit your home quickly. Don’t try to take anything with you, just get out. Once safely outside, go to your family meeting place to ensure that everyone got out safely. Once you are out, stay out.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, in the hallways leading to the bedrooms and on each level of a home, including the basement. Smoke alarms should be mounted on the ceiling at least 4 inches from the wall; wall mounts should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. Do not install near draft areas such as windows or vents. Call the fire department non-emergency number for help if you are unsure about where to place alarms.

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