Change more than clocks this weekend

Mnorth@mercedsunstar.comMarch 9, 2013 

Daylight-saving time starts this weekend, and local fire officials are encouraging residents to change more than just their clocks.

Jeremy Rahn, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection captain, said when people change their clocks to make up for the time difference, they should also replace the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The simple task could be the difference between life and death.

"Having active smoke alarms can help alert people to make sure they get out of the residence in time," Rahn said.

Nancy Koerperich, chief of the Merced County Fire Department and Atwater city, said too many people take their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for granted.

Though some people think of them as annoying, "the fact is, they save lives," Koerperich said. "It's an easy way to instill that safety message to your family."

Deaths could be prevented if more people would pay attention to their alarms, she said.

A study by the National Fire Protection Association shows that nearly 96 percent of households report having at least one smoke alarm, according to a Cal Fire news release. However, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that residential fires make up nearly 83 percent of civilian fire deaths.

Too often, people remove the batteries from smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when they need them for another device, Rahn said, adding that people tend to forget about the alarms. It's crucial to keep the alarms in proper working order.

Rahn said this time of year also presents a good opportunity for families to review home escape plans.

Daylight-saving time starts at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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