Public Safety

Spring Forward and Improve Your Household Safety

Don’t forget to change your clocks forward one hour Saturday night for Daylight Saving Time–and while you’re at it, check to make sure all your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.

“It really only takes 10 minutes at most to check your smoke alarms,” said James Pine, deputy fire marshal for County Fire Authority. “Families stake their lives on those devices in case a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, so it really is important to ensure they are all functioning properly.”

Typically, people just need to press a button to hear the alarm activate. If it beeps, the battery is still good. Safety experts further suggest checking the battery in your smoke alarm on a monthly basis and replacing the battery annually.

You may notice that some newer smoke alarms have a special battery that has a 10 year service life that is not replaceable. In this case, continue to test the battery monthly and replace the entire unit after 10 years.

Generally, all smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years to ensure that continued protection is in place. This simple step can save your life or your loved ones. More than half of fatal home fires occur from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half by having a working smoke alarm installed, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

“Fire fatalities are extremely rare in homes that are equipped with working smoke alarms,” said Pine. “Unfortunately, some people forget the smoke alarms are there and let the batteries go dead, or they never get around to installing smoke alarms at all. So, it’s a good idea to use the time change as a reminder.”

For older adults who may not be able to evacuate as quickly or who may need assistance, smoke alarms are particularly critical. National safety statistics indicate that people 65 or older are two times more likely to die in a house, and that quadruples for those older than 75, according to the Burn Institute.

If you’re a senior without working smoke alarms, the Burn Institute wants to help with its Senior Smoke Alarm Program, which offers people over 62 who own their homes free smoke alarms and installation in San Diego County.

Get more details on the Senior Smoke Alarm Program online or call (858) 541-2277.

If you want extra credit in home safety, you can also use the time change as a reminder to check your emergency supplies kit and replace your stored water so it doesn’t go stale. Also check the batteries in your kit and food and medication items to make sure those items have not expired. Emergency officials recommend that people rotate water and food out of their emergency supplies kits every six months.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact