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Fall Back To Standard Time & Check That Alarm

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Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday morning at two o’clock, when we “fall back” one hour. It’s also a good time to make sure your home is a bit safer. 

Introduced during World War I, Daylight Saving time became permanent in 1966, and expanded from March to November in 2007. The change, says Pensacola Fire Marshal David Allen, can be used to make sure smoke alarms are good to go.

“In new construction, you’re required to have one smoke alarm in each sleeping quarter, and then one in the common area on each level,” said Allen. “It’s a general rule of thumb that the minimal – even in older construction – is at least one per level, and preferably at least one outside the sleeping quarters.”

Smoke alarms have developed in the 40 or so years since they were first put into widespread use. Basically, there are two main types of alarms – ionization and photo-electric. Allen says the newer smoke alarms are a combination of the technologies, so they can detect both a free-burning fire and one that’s smoldering. And he adds there’s a new state law requiring new alarms to contain a sealed lithium battery that lasts for ten years.

“For years, we’ve always said check the batteries each month, and replace the batteries when we change the time, where it’s ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back,’” Allen said. “But a lot of people were still not doing that. In many of the house fires, we find that there are smoke alarms, but either the batteries have been removed, or they’re no longer working.”

Also gaining in popularity are carbon monoxide alarms. CO is a gas that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. But Allen says you don’t need to spend the extra money if you don’t have natural gas or liquefied petroleum.

“Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen off of our red blood cells,” says Dr. Tim Rak, Director of Emergency Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital. “Red blood cells’ job is to carry oxygen throughout the body. Carbon monoxide gets into your system and it sits on that red blood cell so you don’t get any oxygen to your tissues.”

Symptoms of CO poisoning can include headache, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue. The longer the exposure, the more severe the symptoms. Rak says it’s basically like drowning, and survivors can experience some long-term health issues.

“Delirium, patients can get hallucinations, unsteady gait, confusion, depression,” Rak said. “Long-term it can cause people to have heart problems the rest of their life, kidney failure. It’s a pretty terrible poisoning.”

Fire Marshal David Allen says low-income residents who want a smoke alarm but cannot afford one can take advantage of a local program – which also offers the new models.

More information on obtaining a smoke alarm is available at www.myescambia.com; and the Pensacola Fire Department’s website www.Pensacolafire.com.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.