Change your clocks, change your batteries on Nov. 1

Thursday, October 29, 2009

As the time change approaches on Sunday, Nov. 1, the Nevada Fire Department wants to remind residents of make another change that could save their lives -- changing the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Communities nationwide witness tragic home fire deaths each year. Approximately every three hours a home fire death occurs somewhere in the nation and 80 percent of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Non-working smoke alarms rob residents of protective benefits home fire safety devices were designed to provide. The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms are worn or missing batteries.

Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. In fact, working smoke alarms cut nearly in half the risk of dying in a home fire. Additionally, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends replacing your smoke alarms every 10 years.

To save lives and prevent needless injuries in Nevada, the Nevada Fire Department has joined forces with Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs for the 22nd year of the "Change your clock change your battery" campaign. The program urges all Americans to adopt a simple, lifesaving habit: change smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries when changing clocks back to standard time each fall, this year on Nov. 1. Americans are encouraged again to check the batteries during the spring time to change on March 14, 2010.

"The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most families are sleeping," said Fire Chief Robert Benn. "Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple and effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk and a working smoke alarm can give them extra seconds they need to get out safely."

In addition, Benn recommends residents using the "extra" hour they save from the time change to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors by pushing the test button, planning "two ways out," and practicing escape routes with the entire family. Families also should prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries.

During the spring, communities should use the time change on March 14, 2010, as an opportunity to check the batteries in emergency power kits.

Tragically, fire can kill selectively. Those most at risk include:

* Children -- About 600 individuals under the age of 20 die each year in home fires. Children under 5 are at risk of dying in a home fire. Eighty percent of fatal home fire victims who are children were killed in homes without working smoke alarms.

* Seniors -- Adults over the age of 75 are three times more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population; those over 85 are four and a half times more likely to die in a home fire. Many seniors are unable to escape quickly.

* Low-Income Households -- Many low-income families are unable to afford batteries for their smoke alarms. These same households often rely on poorly installed, maintained or misused portable or area heating equipment -- a main cause of fatal home fires.

The Nevada Fire Department offers free smoke alarms and installation to any resident within the city limits.

For more information about fire safety, call the Nevada Fire Department at (417) 448-2720 or e-mail rbenn@nevadamo.org; the "Change your clock change your battery" hotline at (319) 727-5700 ext. 108 or send an e-mail to cyooyb@blickandstaff.com; the International Association of Fire Chiefs at (703) 273-0911 or e-mail corporterelations@iafc.org.

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