ST. PAUL -- Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, and Minnesotans will gain an extra hour of time -- time that State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl hopes will be used to check smoke alarm batteries.
"It takes just a moment - and it could be the most valuable moment you spend this year, making sure those alarms go off if you have a residential fire," he says.
The "Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries" campaign, sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the makers of Energizer batteries, was created 23 years ago after statistics showed that non-working smoke alarms too often contribute to home fire fatalities.
Studies have shown that working alarms increase your fire survival chances by 50 percent -- but sadly, about one-third of the 92 percent of American homes with smoke alarms are not protected because batteries have been removed or allowed to die without replacement.
In Minnesota, there were 35 residential fire deaths in 2009; 10 took place in homes where alarms were missing or inoperable. In the remaining cases, four fatalities occurred in homes with working smoke alarms, and two in homes where alarms were not an issue (suicide, explosion, etc.). In the remaining eight cases, it was not possible to determine whether working alarms were present.
Rosendahl urges Minnesotans to make sure there are alarms on each floor of their homes and one within ten feet of every bedroom door. He recommends testing alarms once a month, creating a home fire escape plan, and practicing the plan to be sure everyone reacts to fire safely.
For detailed information about smoke alarm use and maintenance, along with Minnesota fire statistics from other years, go to the State Fire Marshal Web site at www.fire.state.mn.us.