Before you go to bed tonight, don't forget to add a step to your evening routine: Turn back the clock.
It's the one night of the year you can get an extra hour of sleep just by going to bed at your normal time: the end of daylight-saving time. At 2 a.m. Sunday, standard time returns, turning the clock back an hour.
And another simple step you can take today could prevent tragedy for your family: changing the batteries in your smoke alarm.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs, touting the slogan "change your clocks, change your batteries" uses the time change as a reminder to replace smoke alarm batteries annually.
The campaign was successful in his previous post at East Point, Ga., said Augusta-Richmond County Fire Chief Ronnie Few. He plans to use this weekend for a smoke-detector awareness campaign downtown, and said he hopes to eventually be able to hit every area of the city giving out smoke detectors and batteries.
"A working smoke detector is the best preventive measure you can have in your home," he said. "And this time of year is the heaviest fire season, so it's a good time to make people aware."
More than 90 percent of American homes have smoke alarms, but as many as half of these may not work due to dead or missing batteries, according to statistics from the association.
In Richmond County, 64 people were injured last year in structure fires, which encompasses residential fires along with fires at other buildings, like businesses.
Nationwide, a residential fire begins an average of every 74 seconds, and most occur during the winter months.
Another winter hazard, less common than fire but just as deadly, is carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas, which is produced from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane, can replace the oxygen in the bloodstream and lead to suffocation.
If home appliances like space heaters and wood stoves are not working properly, they can produce the deadly gas. Carbon monoxide is also produced by motors, and allowing any motor to run indoors -- even if garage doors are open -- can be very dangerous.
Flulike symptoms are the earliest sign of carbon monoxide poisoning. Continued exposure can lead to difficulty breathing. Carbon monoxide detectors will sound an alarm when the concentration in the air is high enough to produce mild poisoning.
The devices are available at area home-improvement stores for about $25 to $40.
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