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The start of daylight savings time is just over a week away — which could make this a good weekend to stock up on fresh batteries for your smoke alarms in preparation for the switchover on Sunday, March 13.

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance recommends that people test their smoke alarms at the time of the time change to ensure they are properly protected against fire.

Smoke alarms with removable batteries should receive a fresh set and smoke alarms with sealed-in batteries should be tested to ensure they are in proper working order.

The National Fire Protection Association says three of every five home fire deaths occurs in a home without a smoke alarm or working smoke alarms, and the vast majority of these deaths are due to dead or missing batteries. People frequently do not remember to replace the batteries in their smoke alarms, or they disconnect the alarms to silence annoying chirps. The result is a home that is defenseless against fire.

There is currently legislation before the Illinois General Assembly that would require that battery powered smoke alarms be equipped with non-removable, sealed-in batteries capable of powering the device for at least ten years. Once installed, such alarms cannot be deactivated and require little maintenance.

“Smoke alarms are the single most important appliance you can have in your home,” said Philip Zaleski, executive director of the IFSA. “There have been far too many fatalities in homes without working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms with longer-lasting, non-removable batteries cannot be tampered with or disabled, and we encourage all homeowners and landlords to consider installing these alarms to prevent future fire deaths in Illinois.”

The IFSA says smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside of each bedroom, sleeping area and on every level of a home, and they should be tested monthly. If a smoke alarm chirps, the battery should immediately be replaced. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years with new units.

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