ChangeYourBatteryThumbDaylight Saving Time ended on Sunday, November 1, meaning that clocks should have been dialed back an hour. Enjoy the extra time in the morning, but do heed the warning of Big Bear Valley Fire Departments. They have 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 recommends that residents change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every autumn, when they “fall back” and return clocks to standard time.

Home fire deaths and carbon monoxide poisoning happen every year in America.  Approximately every 3 hours a home fire death occurs somewhere in the nation and 80 percent are in homes without working smoke alarms.   The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms? 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.  Additionally, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends replacing your smoke alarms every ten years.

“I cannot stress how important it is to install and maintain smoke alarms in the home,” Fire Chief Rod Ballard said.  “In my 28 years of fighting fires, over and over I have heard people say that the sound of a smoke alarm woke them up and alerted them to a fire.”

Since most home fire fatalities occur when families are sleeping, a simple effective way to reduce home fire deaths is to maintain smoke alarms.  Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.

It is recommended that the “extra” hour saved from the time change be used 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.

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 age 5 are at twice the risk of dying in a home fire.  Eighty percent of fatal home fire victims who were children were killed in homes without working smoke alarms.

• Seniors — Adults over age 75 are three times more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population; those over 85 are 4.5 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.

With their ongoing support and commitment to public safety, the Kiwanis Club of Big Bear Valley have provided smoke alarms to mountain fire departments for qualifying low-income families and seniors.  For questions regarding smoke alarm installation and maintenance, contact your local fire department: Big Bear City Fire Department, 585-2362; Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District, 866-7566; San Bernardino County Fire Department – Fawnskin, 866-4878; or San Bernardino County Fire Department – Baldwin Lake, 584-9911.