Turn back clocks; test smoke alarms

OKEECHOBEE — Daylight saving time ends this Sunday, and the American Red Cross urges everyone to test their smoke alarms when turning back their clocks.

As the fall season ushers in cold weather, it also increases the risk of deadly home fires.

That’s because heating equipment is the second-most common cause of fatalities from home fires — which, on average, take seven lives every day in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association. But working smoke alarms can double a person’s odds of survival.

“As the winter approaches, we see a lot of individuals and families using their heaters and fire places,” said Jill Palmer, executive director for the Southern Gulf Chapter. “It’s important that families take time make sure they have working smoke alarms to protect them from the season’s life-threatening risk of home fires.”

Sarah Ruwe is the  executive director for the Coast to Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross which services the following counties: Okeechobee, Indian River, St. Lucie and Highlands.

Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster — most often being home fires.

This weekend, the Red Cross asks everyone to take these simple steps:

• Check smoke alarm batteries. When turning the clocks back, take a few minutes to replace the smoke alarm batteries if needed and push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.

• Install smoke alarms. If you don’t have working smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.

• Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows two ways to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.

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