While you are setting the time on your clock back take the time to protect the ones you love by changing the batteries in your smoke detector. During daylight savings time, Coast firefighters and the American Red Cross are reminding people that smoke alarms can save lives but only if they're working correctly.
Red Cross officials said last year the South Mississippi chapter responded to more than 350 house fires. Officials said this time of year can be especially dangerous.
When responding to a house fire, firefighters use positive pressure ventilators to clear the house of smoke. Long Beach firefighters said heavy smoke can make it difficult for families to escape their homes safely.
"The biggest risk in a fire usually happens before the fire gets too intense," said firefighter Craig Ahlers. "The smoke makes it hard for us to breathe. Then we have a hard time with visibility as far as getting out of a house. So it's very important to have those batteries changed at least twice a year."
Firefighters said daylight savings is a convenient reminder for the twice a year battery change. They said especially over the Fall and Winter, the chance of a home catching fire increases.
"A majority of the fires are at night especially when people are using space heaters at night when the temperature goes down," said Ahlers. "They have them going good to keep themselves warm and cozy. Without a smoke detector chances are if a fire breaks out you're going to have a hard time getting out."
Ahlers said, "Another bad thing about this time of year is people use extension chords. They plug in surge protectors and have four or five different chords plugged into one outlet. That heats up the outlet and makes it a fire risk."
The Long Beach Fire Department distributes free smoke detectors to the elderly and low income. They don't recommend detectors in the kitchen because they'll go off frequently and people will likely become annoyed and take the batteries out.
"We recommend you put it in the next room adjacent to the kitchen so if the smoke does get to thick it will at least trip off the smoke detector in the adjacent room," Ahlers said. "Smoke detectors should always be put in every bedroom and adjacent to every bedroom so if you have a hall way leading to the bedroom, you need one in the bedroom and in the hallway.
Martha Duvall, Communications Officer for Red Cross said, "Mississippi residents can take simple actions to reduce the risk of a home fire tragedy by installing and maintaining a smoke alarm on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Smoke alarms provide us with a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire and the extra time can save lives."
Here are some safety tips from the American Red Cross.
Check smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button.
Install a new battery immediately if an alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low.
Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
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