Given the cold and wet conditions last week, an extra hour of sleep, or rest, last Sunday was welcomed by most.
We marked the end of daylight-saving time, meaning we ''fell back'' and pushed clocks back one hour, with the end result being an hour of daylight moved from evening to morning. But most importantly, the biannual task of turning dials and resetting digital clocks is a reminder to all homeowners to check and / or replace batteries in smoke alarms.
According to statistics, more than 1.7 million fires strike American homes and businesses yearly. Often, those fires are preventable.
It's a fact that properly functioning smoke alarms can and do save lives, and all homes should have at least one alarm installed on each level. Smoke alarms should be installed in the basement and outside every separate sleeping area, experts have said.
The smoke alarms require little care. Homeowners should test them once a month using the test button and remember to change the batteries once a year or sooner if the alarm chirps.
Smoke alarms, fortunately, are in an estimated 93 percent of American homes these days. They're affordable and easily installed, but home owners must be diligent in testing the alarms and making sure the batteries are charged.
It's also important to note that many smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, according to officials with the National Fire Protection Association.
And while smoke alarms remain the single most important way of preventing home fire fatalities, it's important that families have a home escape plan in place, too. The fact is once a smoke alarms sounds, family members have only seconds to respond and get out of the home, and there's not time to hunt for family members and pets and gather possessions. That's why adults and children should plan and practice home fire drills, allowing everyone in the home to become familiar with an escape route and a meeting place outside the home.
We urge you to take a few minutes, if you didn't already on Sunday, and make sure your home smoke alarms are properly installed and are working. It could save your life and the lives of your family.