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Reminder: When you turn back the clocks this weekend, change your smoke alarm batteries, too

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HARRISBURG — State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay has a reminder for all Pennsylvanians: When you turn back the clocks this weekend, don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, too.

“When we change clocks, it should be automatic that you check your smoke alarms and change any batteries that need to be changed,” Solobay said in a press release. “It takes just a few minutes, and is a potentially life-saving investment of your time and energy.”

Most newer models of smoke alarms come with batteries that will last ten years but must be tested weekly; older models have batteries that must be changed regularly to ensure they work properly.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).

“Smoke alarms alert you to a problem in your home, and that few minutes’ warning can make the difference between everyone getting out safely and a tragedy,” Solobay said.

Solobay pointed out that carbon monoxide detectors should be tested and batteries changed as well, particularly as the weather turns colder and people start using things like wood or coal stoves and gas furnaces to heat their homes.

Carbon monoxide is created when combustible materials burn incompletely. Often called “the silent killer,” it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can incapacitate victims before they’re aware they’ve been exposed, and leaves them unable to call 9-1-1 for help. Sources include wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired fireplaces, appliances, grills and generators, and motor vehicles.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue.