Time to change alarm batteries

Welcome to the darkness. Standard Time has officially begun, even though it has grown out of favor with most area residents.

According to a Daily News internet poll of 984 readers, 569 people favored daily savings time, 106 favored standard time and 309 respondents had no preference, only that the time be kept constant year-round.

It appears old Ben Franklin’s idea to save on candles has run its course. The 78-year-old Franklin proposed daylight saving time in 1784.

Unfortunately, the chances that lawmakers will actually end the back-and-forth of this daylight-saving-time-to-standard-time switch is as likely as winning a Powerball jackpot – twice.

Sill, changing the clocks does have one redeeming factor. It serves as a reminder to area residents to check their smoke alarms.

Michigan State Fire Marshal Rich Miller says area residents should replace the batteries in their smoke alarms every time they change their clocks.

“The risk of dying from a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home that has working smoke alarms,” Miller said. “Be sure to have working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and in the basement. The early warning provided by smoke alarms gives extra time to escape, especially children and senior citizens who are most at risk and need extra seconds to get out safely.”

A report “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires” issued by the National Fire Protection Association in September 2011 indicates that in 2005-2009, approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms usually fail due to missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. People often remove or disconnect batteries because of nuisance activations – a chirping sound that warns of a low battery.

The State Fire Marshal along with the National Fire Protection Association recommends the following:

– Choose a smoke alarm that bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

– Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

– Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.

– For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

– Use both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor alarms. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.

– Buy newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit.

– Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

– Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by using the test button.

– Replace batteries once a year.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and ReadyWisconsin officials are also urging residents to make sure their home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order, and an emergency kit is ready in the event of weather emergencies.

“When we set the clocks back this year, it’s the perfect time to check our home devices that protect us and our families from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, and to prepare for winter weather,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, Wisconsin State Health Officer. Dr. Anderson offers the following advice:

– Smoke Detectors: Check and replace batteries if needed and make sure the devices around your house are working properly. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that about 16 million homes in the country have smoke alarms that do not work, due in most cases to dead or missing batteries.

– Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and nearly 500 are killed each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

To protect your family from carbon monoxide, follow these simple safety tips:

– Make sure you have working CO detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have CO detectors on every level including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas.

– Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually to make sure it is structurally and functionally sound and vents properly to the outside of your home.

– Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.

– Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

– Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors. Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, and dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea /vomiting, and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

– Emergency Kits: Everyone should have a basic emergency kit in their home with supplies such as food and water to last you and your family at least three days. Other items like a battery powered or crank radio, flashlights and a first aid kit should also be included. If you already have an emergency kit prepared, make sure food and other items are not near or past their expiration dates.