Change your clocks, change your batteries

Daylight saving time returns at 2 a.m. Sunday, when we move our clocks ahead one hour.

While that means we will have an extra hour of daylight to enjoy outdoor activities, it also represents one of the two good times during the year to follow a routine of checking smoke detector batteries in your home. It also is a good time to check the carbon monoxide detector.

The National Fire Protection Association reported that an average of 3,173 people across the country lost their lives to fire between 2013 and 2017. The number of home fire deaths peaked in 1978, when more than 6,000 people died.

Fire officials state that smoke detectors save lives and limit property damage. In a fire, smoke and deadly gases tend to spread farther and faster than heat. Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.

The time to talk about smoke detectors is before a fire breaks out.

Anyone can walk into a store and purchase a smoke alarm for less than $20.

Installation is easy, and can be accomplished by just about anyone. Local fire departments can be called for help in placing the smoke detectors throughout the home. Experts say the best configuration includes one alarm on each floor of the house and inside sleeping areas.

Smoke alarms aren’t effective if they aren’t working properly.

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

Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms do save lives.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.

The biggest causes for an alarm to fail to function properly are missing, disconnected or dead batteries. In fact, surveys show that almost one-third of all smoke detectors fall into that category.

That’s as bad as not having a smoke detector at all.

Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths, and cooking is the primary cause of residential fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smoke alarms give residents of the home a chance to safely escape.

Consider the time to spring ahead as the time to double check those batteries. While you’re at it, clean your smoke alarm. The National Fire Protection Association recommends the unit be replaced if it is more than 10 years old.

While you’re busy tonight setting and resetting your clocks, watches and other devices, remember to check your smoke detectors.