Check your clocks, batteries

Daylight saving time comes to an end early Sunday, so it’s time to “fall back” and push clocks back one hour.

An hour of daylight will be moved from evening to morning, but the bi-annual task of turning dials and resetting digital clocks should serve as a reminder to all homeowners to check and/or replace batteries in smoke alarms.

According to statistics, more than 1.3 million fires strike American homes and businesses yearly. And while fires are destructive, many are preventable. Fires in 2011 resulted in 3,120 civilian fire fatalities, 17,720 civilian fire injuries and an estimated $11,593,000,000 in property loss

It’s a fact: Properly functioning smoke alarms do save lives. All homes should have at least one alarm installed on each level, and they should be installed in the basement and outside every separate sleeping area, according to experts.

Smoke alarms require very little care. All you need to do is test them once a month using the test button and remember to change the batteries once a year, or sooner if the alarm chirps.

These devices have become popular in recent decades, as an estimated 93 percent of American homes have smoke alarms these days. They’re affordable and easily installed, but home owners must be diligent in testing the alarms and making sure the batteries are charged.

It’s also important to note that many smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, according to officials with the National Fire Protection Association.

And while smoke alarms remain the single most important way of preventing home fire fatalities, remember that families should have a home escape plan in place, too. The fact is once a smoke alarm sounds, family members have only seconds to respond and get out of the house, and there’s not time to hunt for family members and pets and gather possessions. So planning and practicing home fire drills allows everyone to become familiar with an escape route and a meeting place outside.

With that said, we issue a reminder to readers to take a few minutes in that extra hour tomorrow to make sure home smoke alarms are properly installed and are working, and enjoy your day.