Editorial: Change clocks, change batteries, stay safe

Halloween has come and gone. This past Friday was the last of the regular season games for our local football teams. The Kiwanis Club of Dalton's Pancake Day arrives Saturday morning.

And then Saturday night -- well, actually Sunday morning -- the time changes, again. Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday at 2 a.m. when we set all clocks back one hour -- or rely on our technologically advanced smartphones, smartwatches and other smartdevices to change on their own.

Last March we set our clocks ahead one hour to "spring forward," and now this weekend we've got to remember to "fall back" and set the clocks back an hour before retiring for the night Saturday, or night owls can be punctual and do it at 2 a.m.

Why do we change the time every spring and fall? For one reason, Congressional action dictates the changes. Daylight Saving Time first took hold here and in Europe during World War I to save fuel, namely coal, during the evening hours. Daylight Saving Time was used on and off over the years and states could opt to use it or not, which caused a lot of confusion in transportation and communications.

Whether you disagree with the time changes or not, there is one benefit that comes with them: A reminder to change your smoke alarm batteries. If you have no detectors in your home, this is a great time to install them.

Public safety officials have said a properly installed and maintained smoke detector is the only thing in homes that can alert families to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you are awake or asleep, a working smoke detector is always on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King urges all Georgians to change their clocks and their smoke alarm batteries this weekend to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time.

"Smoke alarms protect your lives and belongings by warning when there might be a fire in your home or place of work," King said. "However, a smoke alarm's life-saving impact goes away when it runs out of batteries. Fire safety experts advise that smoke alarm batteries should be changed twice per year, and the end of Daylight Savings Times is the perfect opportunity to replace the batteries in our smoke alarms."

Smoke alarm batteries can be the difference between life and death. This was highlighted in 2020 when 55 of 58 fatal fires in Georgia could have been prevented if Georgians had changed their batteries. This translates to 95% of all fire fatalities being preventable by simple maintenance, according to King's office.

King also encourages Georgians to test and clean dust from their smoke alarms monthly and to practice an escape plan in case their home is ever impacted by a fire. More information on fire safety can be obtained from King's office, the U.S. Fire Administration, the American Red Cross or your local fire station.

So remember to check those smoke detectors when you reset your timepieces on Saturday. Doing both will make you ready for the next time this happens, on March 13.

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