Change your clocks, change your batteries

Published 8:41 pm Saturday, November 6, 2010

This weekend, we will get an extra hour to sleep.

But instead of sleeping, there’s something more important you can do with your extra time — change the batteries in your smoke alarms. You may even have a little time left for a catnap.

The time changed at 2 a.m. Sunday. That’s when we set our clocks back to Standard Time. The time change is a good reminder to check smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a home fire.

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According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Virginia experienced 13.3 fire deaths per million residents in 2007. The national fire death rate during the same year was 13.2.

The fire problem varies from region to region in the United States, according to the agency. This often is a result of climate, poverty, education, demographics and other causal factors.

The highest death rates in 2007 occurred in the District of Columbia with 39.2 per million and Mississippi, 28.4. The states with the lowest rates were North Dakota with 6.3, Rhode Island with 5.7 and Hawaii with 3.9.

Smokes alarms save lives but must be maintained to remain dependable. A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is like not having one at all. It’s also wise to test your smoke alarm monthly by pushing the “test” button, if it has one.

Some smoke alarms are hardwired into your home’s electrical system. These alarms are usually equipped with a backup battery.

If your smoke alarm is powered by battery, it needs to be replaced annually. That’s why choosing an annual date, such as the time change, is a good way to make sure you keep your smoke alarm in good working order. So, let’s get it done.