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Daylight savings prompts reminder

ST. PAUL – Statistics collected from Minnesota fire departments in 2011 reveal that the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 29 percent of residential fire deaths that year occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.

Those are two reasons the State Fire Marshal supports the annual “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” campaign.

Early Sunday, daylight-saving time ends and clocks must be turned back one hour. State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said Minnesotans also should change batteries in every smoke alarm to assure adequate warning in case of a fire.

“Smoke alarm batteries need to be checked often and changed at least once a year. Smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years,” Rosendahl said. “These devices save lives every day, and ignoring them can be a fatal mistake.”

About two-thirds of fire deaths nationwide occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most commonly, alarms fail due to missing or worn-out batteries.

Rosendahl said some people remove batteries for other uses or to keep the alarm from going off accidentally. “They’re gambling with their lives, even if they think the chance of a fire is nil. Sadly, that may be what others thought, too – before they died because they had no warning before their homes filled with smoke.”

In most communities, residents who need help installing or maintaining smoke alarms can call on their fire department for assistance.