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Change your clocks, smoke alarm batteries

TOPEKA -- Daylight savings time begins Sunday, and as communities prepare to "spring ahead" one hour, the Office of the Kansas State Fire Marshal urges residents to practice fire safety by testing their smoke alarms and changing the batteries. Alkaline batteries should be replaced at least once a year, and a good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you change your clocks.

"Ensuring you have working smoke alarms in your home is the single most important step you can take to increase your family's safety from a home fire," said Doug Jorgensen, state fire marshal. "Your risk of dying in a fire is greatly reduced when your home is equipped with working smoke alarms."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

To protect your home, follow these smoke alarm safety tips:

* Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home, including in the basement.

* Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.

* For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery. Date each unit when they are installed and replace them after 10 years -- or sooner if they do not successfully pass the test by sounding the alarm when the test button is pressed.

In addition to changing smoke alarm batteries, it also is a good idea to practice a family escape plan:

* Plan and practice two escape routes out of every room in your house.

* Designate an outside meeting place.

* In case of fire, call 911 once you are safely outside your home.

* Once outside, stay outside and don't return for anything -- not even a pet.