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Daylight Saving Ends Sunday: Fall Back & Check Batteries

Photo via Flickr// Steve Grosbois

We all “fall back” one hour Sunday morning, with the end of Daylight Saving Time until March. It’s also a good time to make sure your home is a bit safer. 

Daylight Saving Time was introduced during World War I, made permanent in 1966 and expanded in 2007 to run from March to November. Any state can opt out of DST, as have Arizona and Hawaii. But it's not so much the time change; it's how you use that time. 

To that end, Lt. Dan Akerman with Escambia Fire-Rescue, reminds everyone of the 27th annual “Change Your Clocks, Change Your Battery” campaign.

“A smoke alarm is the only device that’s going to wake you up when a fire occurs when you’re sleeping,” said Akerman. “Typically if you don’t have a working smoke alarm you don’t wake up in time for you to evacuate. Or you don’t wake up at all.” Make sure to get those batteries changed out.”

About 3,000 people in the U-S die in home fires each year, according to numerous studies. Most of the fatalities occur between the hours of 10 p-m and seven a-m. Smoke detectors made their first appearances in homes about 40 years ago. Since then, says Pensacola Fire Marshal David Allen, they’ve earned their reputation as “life-savers.”

“The number of fire deaths have dropped dramatically since the mid-70s as a result of the smoke alarms,” said Allen. “As a matter of fact, the National Association of Fire Protection says that 66% of all home fire deaths between 2003 and 2006 were in homes that did not have working smoke alarms.”

Another device that’s gained favor with homeowners is the carbon monoxide detector. C-O gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless -- and if it replaces enough oxygen in the bloodstream it’s also lethal.

Even with an all-electric home, Allen says it’s a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector in the garage -- where vehicles are parked -- and in many cases where gasoline-powered generators are used during power outages.

Besides the overall safety benefits, smoke alarms are also vital for protecting children and seniors – who are at the highest risk of dying in a house fire. Escambia Fire-Rescue’s Daniel Akerman says other safeguards are having and maintaining fire extinguishers, and developing a family escape plan.

“You need two ways out of every room of your house,” Akerman says. “The first is typically through a doorway, front door-back door. Then if you can’t find a second doorway out, use a window. Usually, a hallway is a generic for all bedrooms, and using a window is a backup for each of those bedrooms.”

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years, but Akerman says don’t stop there. Also make sure that heating systems are ready for fall and winter.

When cold weather moves in, concerns rise about the dangers posed by the improper use of heating devices. Pensacola Fire Marshal David Allen says a prime example is mishandling space heaters. 

“At least three feet away is what’s recommended by the National Fire Protection Association,” said Allen. “And also be sure that the space heater has a ‘tip over’ switch to turn it off if it is turned over by accident.”

Low-income residents who want a smoke alarm but cannot afford one can take advantage of a local program. More information on fire safety and obtaining a smoke alarm is available at my-escambia.com; and the Pensacola Fire Department’s website Pensacola-fire.com.