Check your clocks and batteries

As you make your way around the house this weekend changing clocks back one hour, remember to check the most important items in the house — smoke detectors.

The beginning and end of daylight saving time offer reminders to check batteries in smoke detectors. Batteries need to be replaced at least once a year.

It also is a good time to check on hardwired smoke detectors to make sure the units are working properly. Even those units have a battery backup in case of a power failure.

Smoke alarms save lives, but they are often neglected until it is too late.

The National Fire Protection Agency reported 60 percent of home fire deaths in 2009 through 2013 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Having a working smoke alarm in the home cuts in half the risk of dying in a house fire.

Missing or disconnected batteries were the cause of almost half of the smoke alarms that didn’t operate in a fire, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.

In house fires large enough to set off smoke alarms, hardwired smoke alarms were activated 93 percent of the time, while battery-powered alarms operated only 79 percent of the time.

An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. Experts say for the best protection, or where extra time is needed to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.

Test the alarms once a month by pushing the test button and observing that the lights flash and the alarm sounds loudly.

A chirping smoke alarm can be a nuisance but the worst mistake that can be made is to take out the battery or pull out the wires. Take the time to replace the batteries or replace the entire unit.

As you make your way around the house changing clocks, mentally map out escape routes for the entire family in the event of a fire. Take the extra step to actually practice the escape routes. Seconds count in the event of a fire. It is the job of a smoke detector to sound an alert in the event of a fire so everyone can make it out safely.

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