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3/8/2013 - Don't forget to change the batteries on smoke alarms this Sunday

In addition to swapping out the batteries, homeowners should regularly test their smoke detectors.

Sunday begins Daylight Saving Time, the annual occasion in which most of the country sets its clocks ahead one hour to give everyone an extra 60 minutes worth of light. While the yearly event enables workers who rely on daylight to get more things done, and also reduces electricity consumption, it also helps remind homeowners to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

"When changing clocks this weekend for Daylight Saving Time, remember to change the batteries in smoke and [carbon monoxide] alarms," said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Fresh batteries in alarms are essential to keeping your alarm working and on guard to protect you and your family."

Because virtually every home comes equipped with smoke alarms, it can be easy to forget that these are in place. And even though some alarms are attached to a home's electrical grid, most smoke detectors rely on batteries in order to function properly.

Making fire safety a priority
In addition to swapping out old batteries for new ones, fire officials have other recommendations homeowners can do this Sunday as well. For example, on the outside of the detector, there should be a "test" button visible. It's a good idea to press the button to ensure that it's working, as this is what activates the alarm when in an emergency situation. It's also advisable to develop a fire evacuation plan that lays out the best places to escape a home should there be a fire. Families might consider running through a practice drill, timing how long it takes to get out of the house and meet at the nearest safe location.

Something else families can do is to clean out the alarm. If the detector hasn't been cleaned out in a while, there could be a fair amount of dust in the interior of it that's accumulated. If too much gathers, it could affect the alarm's ability to signal when smoke or fire is in the vicinity.

Every year, smoke alarms have prevented thousands of fires that could have led to serious homeowner's insurance claims or loss of life. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003 and 2006, approximately two-thirds of the fatalities that occurred as a result of a home fire took place in homes where the detector was inoperable.

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