End of daylight saving time serves as safety reminder

By LEAH NESTOR

The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va.  — As the end of daylight saving time approaches — it officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday — area residents should be ready to turn back clocks an hour and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

While going through the house to change clocks, residents should also take the time to change the batteries in detectors, according to Buckhannon Fire Chief Jim Townsend.

“It’s just an easy reminder,” he said.

Aside from batteries being changed twice a year with the fall and spring time changes, Townsend said carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, but checked once a month. This can be done by pressing the test button to sound the alarm.

“That tells you that the battery is good and that the detector is good,” he said.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will chirp when their batteries are getting low.

The need for working detectors is essential as the weather gets colder, because a furnace or water heater may not be exhausting properly, Townsend said.

“Heaters haven’t been turned on. They haven’t been used. … Those vent pipes can get hit, disturbed and, you know, shift,” he said.

That can prevent pipes from exhausting gases outside as they should.

Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, the only way to be aware of it is with a detector.

Townsend said a detector will go off when carbon monoxide levels are still not high enough to cause loss of consciousness, allowing people to get out of the house in time.

Bridgeport Fire Department Lt. Keith Linger said there should be at least one smoke detector and one carbon monoxide detector per floor.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in living rooms and bedrooms, he said. Smoke detectors should be placed outside bedrooms, in common hallways, the living room area and kitchen area.

“If you have multiple floors, usually at the top of the stairwell, just because smoke will go the path of least resistance,” Linger said.

West Virginia ranks as the No. 1 state in fire-related deaths, Townsend said.

Because of the increase in man-made materials in houses, people have only 2 to 3 minutes to exit after a smoke alarm sounds, he said. In those few minutes, the smoke and heat can increase to a level that makes it impossible to get out safely.

“Don’t stop to call 911. Just get out of the house as quick as you can,” Townsend said.

Bridgeport resident Ashley McClain said her husband is really good about changing the batteries in all their detectors. Concerning the time change, McClain said she is excited to get an extra hour of sleep Saturday night, but she’s dreading it getting darker earlier.

For Clarksburg resident Ashley Gerken, the time change is neither exciting nor depressing.

“It will probably get me off my game a little, but I will focus on my daily routine, activities and keep a positive attitude,” she said.

The time change just makes sense, Gerken said, and it “prepares us for the winter ahead with shorter and colder days, but brings us closer to the ones we love.”

Gerken also said she is planning to change the batteries in her residence’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can be bought at hardware and department stores.

Fire departments also have them available for people who are unable to afford them. Assistance to install them is also available by contacting the local fire department.

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