Summit County's three fire departments want to remind residents that as they change their clocks to Mountain Standard Time this weekend, don't forget to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors.
"Smoke detectors are your first line of defense in case a fire occurs in your home," said Lake Dillon Fire chief Dave Parmley. "They have been proven time and again to save lives, and now is the time to ensure they are working properly. The biennial changing of the clocks is a great 'string around your finger' to replace the batteries."
The annual return to Mountain Standard Time requires changing clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Red, White and Blue Fire deputy chief and fire marshal Jay Nelson noted that too often people die in fires where there were no working smoke detectors - either they were disabled, the batteries were dead or they were not ever placed in a home.
"Even hard-wired smoke detectors often have a battery backup, and that little $2 battery could save your life. It's absolutely worth it," Nelson said.
Copper Mountain Fire chief Mark Thomson also reminds residents and rental-property owners to replace the batteries in carbon-monoxide detectors and ensure they are working properly, too, especially as heating systems are being used for the first time.
"Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and you don't even know you're being exposed to it," Thomson said. "Rental properties in Colorado are required to have CO detectors, and we encourage their use in all properties.
In addition to changing your smoke alarm batteries this weekend, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends following these simple steps to protect your life, your loved ones, and your home:
> Dust or vacuum smoke alarms when you change the batteries.
> Test alarms once a month using the test button.
> Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or doesn't work properly when tested.
> Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
> Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout your home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Interconnected alarms are available at most stores that sell smoke alarms.
> Make sure everyone in your home understands the warning of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
Finally, prepare and practice an escape plan so that you and your loved ones can get out of your home safely should there be a fire. Plan to meet in a place a safe distance from the fire and where first responders can easily see you.