Owatonna Fire Department encourages citizens to change smoke alarm batteries - Owatonna MN: Owatonna Peoples Press

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Owatonna Fire Department encourages citizens to change smoke alarm batteries

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 2:07 pm | Updated: 11:23 pm, Fri Nov 2, 2012.

OWATONNA — Every autumn, people turn their clocks back an hour to account for daylight saving time, giving them an extra hour of sleep on a Sunday morning.

The Owatonna Fire Department is encouraging people to change more than just their clocks this weekend.

“We have a campaign that we’ve done for years, and it’s called, ‘Change your battery when you change your clock,’” said Owatonna Fire Chief Mike Johnson “We’re working with Eveready Battery and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. What we want people to do is simple smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector maintenance.”

Johnson said 96 percent of homes have at least one smoke alarm. Of those homes, 19 percent do not have at least one smoke alarms that works. Johnson said the campaign encourages people to replace the batteries in their smoke alarms and CO detectors, which needs to be done annually. He also encouraged people to make sure they lend a hand to neighbors and family members who may have trouble changing the batteries.

“Most people, it’s a common thing that they have to go through their house and change their clocks. It’s a good time if you already have a ladder out to go through and change the batteries on your smoke detectors and your CO detectors” Johnson said. “If your detector is over 10 years old, the sensors can become weak, so if they’re older than 10 years old we want them to just change their smoke detector altogether.”

Changing batteries isn’t the only thing the fire department is encouraging. Johnson said families should go through their emergency plans so everyone in the house knows what to do in case of a fire. He also encouraged people to vacuum around their detectors because dust can cause malfunctions in the sensors.

There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of a home, Johnson said, and one in every sleeping area. CO detectors should be within 10 feet of all sleeping areas as well, as CO is not able to be detected without it.

“It’s a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. About 500 people die in the United States die each year from non-intentional, non-fire carbon monoxide poisoning,” Johnson said.

Taking the time to change the batteries in these detectors can be a life-saving decision some time down the road, Johnson said.

“People die in fires and people die from carbon monoxide. We can prevent those by when people change their clocks, change the batteries,” he said.

Reach reporter Al Strain at 444-2376 or follow him on Twitter.com@OPPalstrain

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