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The Journal Gazette

Change your clocks, batteries this weekend

Statement issued Thursday:

When you change your clocks this weekend, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms too. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to make a habit of replacing smoke and CO alarm batteries when the time changes. Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7 this year.

"Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year."

In addition to changing batteries every year, CPSC recommends consumers test their alarms monthly. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.

Fire departments responded to an estimated 385,100 residential fires nationwide that resulted in an estimated 2,470 civilian deaths, 12,600 injuries and $6.43 billion in property losses annually, on average, from 2005 through 2007.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. An average of 181 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths occurred annually associated with consumer products, including portable generators, from 2004 through 2006.

CPSC is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide poster contest to increase awareness about the dangers of CO in the home. The poster contest is open to all middle school students in grades 6, 7 and 8 through December 31. Each of nine finalists will receive $250 in prize money. The grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $500. More information about the contest is available at www.challenge.gov/cpsc. Encourage your middle school student to participate.

CPSC also urges consumers to test electrical outlets in their homes that are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, also called GFCIs or GFIs. A GFCI is an inexpensive electrical device that can be installed in a home's electrical system to protect against severe or fatal electric shocks. If you don't have GFCIs, have them installed by a qualified electrician.

Test the GFCI after installation, at least once every month, after a power failure and according to the manufacturer's instructions. See our GFCI Fact Sheet for more information about GFCIs, where to install them and how to test them.

To see this release on CPSC's web site, including a picture of an electrical outlet with a GFCI, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11030.html

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