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FIRE CHIEF: Protect your life, loved ones with simple steps

The Mitchell Fire Department has a simple but powerful reminder for all members of our community this weekend. When you change your clocks for daylight-saving time, change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and please remind your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.

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Additionally, we recommend following these simple steps to protect your life, loved ones and home:

• Dust or vacuum smoke alarms when you change the batteries.

• Test alarms once a month using the test button.

• Replace the entire alarm if it’s more than 10 years old or doesn’t work properly when tested.

• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and both inside and outside of sleeping areas.

• For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor alarms.

• Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout your home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Interconnected alarms are available at most stores that sell smoke alarms.

• Make sure everyone in your home understands the warning of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.

Finally, prepare and practice an escape plan so that you and your loved ones can get out of your home safely should there be a fire. Plan to meet in a place a safe distance from the fire and where first responders can easily see you.

Twenty-five years ago, Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs recognized a disturbing trend that many home fire fatalities were taking place in homes without working smoke alarms. So the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery program was developed to help reduce and hopefully, one day, eliminate this number.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fire structures in half. As a 22-year fire service veteran, I have witnessed first-hand the tragedy and devastation of home fires. It’s even more heartbreaking when a young life is cut short. Thousands are injured and killed each year from home fires. Overall, almost 66 percent of home fire deaths in this country occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Considering that residential fire deaths peak in winter months, it’s critical to check and change your smoke alarm batteries each and every fall.

-Paul Morris is assistant chief of Mitchell Fire/EMS.