Timely reminder
Officials urge residents to check smoke alarms with extra hour

COVINGTON - You can sleep a little longer Sunday morning as Daylight Saving Time will end at 2 a.m. Residents are reminded to set their clocks back one hour before bedtime Saturday.

Both Newton County and Covington firefighters are urging citizens to use the fall time change as a time to check smoke detectors and make sure their homes are as safe as possible from the threat of fire.

According to Lt. Cydnie Taylor of the Newton County Fire Service her department is so dedicated to the concept of smoke alarms that they are offering free detectors and will install them for residents who do not have them.

"We began last year about this time, and we've installed more than 175 (smoke detectors) so far," she said. "We'll get them out to your home and do a fire safety inspection."

She also cautioned that some newer homes have smoke detectors with lithium batteries.

"These smoke detectors need to be thrown away every 10 years and new ones installed. A lot of people are not aware of that. It's easy as the wiring just unplugs, but we can also help with that," she said.

Taylor said the smoke detectors are made available in conjunction with a grant through the health department, and any resident can contact the fire department to receive one.

"Our goal is to get everyone in Newton County with a smoke detector because it increases chances of survival by 50 percent," she said. "A lot of fatalities occur when people have smoke detectors, but don't have batteries in them. A lot of people

perish because of that, and we're trying to curb that."

Capt. Rob Christopher of the Covington Fire Department said his department has joined forces with Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs for the 21st year of the "Change Your Clock Change Your Battery campaign.

"The peak time for home fire fatalities is between

10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when most families are sleeping, Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths," he said. "Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get to safety."

He recommends that residents also use the "extra" hour they save from the time change to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors by pushing the test button, planning "two ways out" and practicing escape routes with the entire family.

"Families should also prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries," he said.

For more information on the availability of smoke detectors or fire safety information, the NCFS can be reached at 770-784-2116 or via the Web at www.newtoncountyfireservice.org.

The Covington Fire Department can be reached at 770-385-2100 or residents can call the Keep Safe, Keep Going hotline at 314-727-5700, extension 104.