As homeowners are reminded this weekend to move their clocks ahead an hour for the return of Daylight Saving Time, state and local officials are urging people also to remember to change the batteries in their smoke alarms.
Dead batteries “are a problem” with regard to smoke alarms, Georgia Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Jay Florence said. Florence was in Athens Friday to present three dozen smoke alarms to the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department.
The donated smoke alarms will be used in a fire department program that provides the devices at no cost to people in financial need, Fire Chief Jeff Scarbrough said.
“We actually take the smoke detector to them and install it and explain how it works,” the chief said.
“Last year there were 106 residential fires (in Georgia) that resulted in 141 deaths, and only 10 of the homes had working smoking alarms,” Florence said. “We’re urging people in conjunction with Daylight Saving Time to change the batteries in their smoke alarms.”
In the wake of a recent fatal fire at the Bulldog Inn in Athens, Scarbrough said he fielded questions from many people and discovered there is a misconception among some people that they will wake up upon smelling smoke.
“That’s why you need this,” he said. “You won’t smell the smoke and wake up.”
Fire alarms should be tested periodically, and dusted to ensure that they remain in good working order, Florence said.
“As inexpensive as this is, it saves lives. For the folks who can afford them, spend $15 for a smoke alarm and take care of your family. For those who can’t, that’s why we have programs like this,” Scarbrough said.