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Time to change clocks, smoke-alarm batteries

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Georgians should prepare themselves for standard time, and also remember to change the batteries in their smoke alarms, according to Georgia's commissioner of insurance and fire safety.

John Oxendine said daylight savings time will come to an end on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 a.m., and Georgia residents will need to set their clocks back an hour

It is also strongly recommended that, during this time, residents change their smoke detectors' batteries.

"Every year in Georgia, there are fire fatalities in homes that didn't have smoke alarms, or where the alarms didn't function because of dead batteries," Oxendine said, in a prepared statement. "If you have a smoke alarm, make sure it's in working order. Changing the battery, at least, once every year, and cleaning dust from the device, are easy ways to ensure the continued protection of your family and your property. Having a working smoke alarm doubles the chances you will survive a fire in your home."

He said the clock and battery change go hand-in-hand, because individuals have to change their smoke batteries twice a year, every six months, and it's [the time change is] an easy way to remind them.

"It's a matter of getting the message out to people and having it in a way they can understand it," said Oxendine later, during a telephone interview.

He said even if smoke detectors are hot-wired into the electrical system, it is best to keep batteries on hand as another resource to maintain the detectors in operating conditions, in case a malfunction occurs.

Individuals, who rent homes, should be aware that their landlord has the obligation to maintain, service and change the batteries of the smoke detectors in the residence, said Oxendine.

"It is illegal in the state of Georgia to not have smoke detectors in a home ... If you are renting a home and the landlord does not maintain the smoke detector, report it to our office [Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner], or your local fire department," he said.

Oxendine said families should also conduct fire drills at their homes twice a year.

He said he and his family run fire-drill exercises late at night, because that is when most fires occur.

Residents should also change the batteries in their flashlights and weather radios, said Oxendine. This is recommended now because Georgia experiences storms during the winter season. A home should also have an emergency plan, in case of threatening, severe weather, he explained.

"Make sure you have everything you need in case of an emergency ... Make sure everything is up and going," he said.

For more information, visit the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's web site, at www.gainsurance.org, or call (404) 656-2070.