Ready to spring forward? Time to change clocks, batteries this weekend

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March is a month of change as we say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Change also includes losing an hour of sleep in the second weekend of the month as Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins.

Muscatine residents will officially “spring” forward at 2 a.m. Sunday (March 12, 2023) but most will move their clocks up one hour Saturday night before going to sleep.

Not only is this the weekend to change your clocks, it is also a good time to review your safety checklist. 

The Muscatine Fire Department reminds residents that this weekend is also a good time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to change the batteries, to check the dates on the detectors, and to remind family and friends to do the same.

“The bi-annual changing of time is the perfect opportunity to make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are up-to-date and in working order,” Mike Hartman, Assistant Fire Chief, said.

If you do not have both of these detectors … purchase and install them.

When the alarm sounds you should “Get out & Stay Out”, then call “911” and advise the MUSCOM dispatcher of the problem.

Tragedy was averted in two recent residential fires despite smoke detectors not working. Both homes were destroyed by fire but the sleeping occupants were awakened by family pets and they were able to escape.

“If their pets did not wake them, we would have lost more than just two homes,” Hartman said. “We were very fortunate. Working smoke detectors may have alerted the occupants sooner and potentially saved their homes.”

Hartman noted that research has shown that sleeping individuals do not smell smoke so the sounds emitting from a smoke detector are important to rousing sleeping individuals.

“Studies have also shown that children, especially, will sleep through an alarm that beeps because it sounds a lot like an alarm clock,” Hartman said. “The alarms that actually speak to you have been shown to greatly increase a person’s ability to escape a fire.”

Pre-teenage children don’t wake up to traditional high-frequency tone alarms according to research from the Center for Injury Research and Policy. Detectors that speak or vibrate when activated can help wake children or Individuals with visual or hearing impairments.

A variety of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available and finding the right one for your family situation is important, Hartman said.

“Also be sure to check the date on the smoke detector,” Hartman said.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also recommends replacing smoke alarms in homes every 10 years and those that actually speak warnings are more effective in saving lives than those alarms that just beep.

The Fire Department also recommends photoelectric alarms with a 10-year lithium battery and to mark the date of installation on the detectors.

“These detectors do not last forever,” Hartman said. “It is important that you check the date on the detectors and replace those that are seven years old or more.”

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