Change clocks, check smoke alarms

As Americans prepare to turn their clocks back on Saturday night, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reminds all home owners that the change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time is also the perfect opportunity to test their smoke alarm systems and make sure that they work.

"The simple task of resetting our clocks is the best way to remember this easy, but vitally important job," said NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn, a home builder in Point Pleasant, W. Va.

Improvements in heating, cooling and electrical systems, new construction techniques and safety requirements - especially interconnected smoke alarm systems - mean that new homes are safer than ever before. But all of us have a responsibility to maintain these systems for optimum performance, Dunn said.

Home owners should consult the smoke alarm operating booklet for maintenance advice - or the manufacturer's Web site if the booklet has been misplaced, Dunn suggested. And if the alarm is more than 10 years old, it should be replaced.

Tragically, smoke alarms are still missing in four percent of homes, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. These residences account for 39 percent of reported home fires and nearly half of all the reported home fire deaths.

"Smoke alarms are inexpensive, but they have a very important job to do: to help make sure families can leave their homes quickly in the event of a fire," Dunn said. "All families should know how to prevent fire, have a specific escape plan should a fire erupt, and regularly inspect and maintain their smoke alarm systems. As we turn back our clocks, let's check out our smoke alarms."