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Mitzi Parker: Don’t forget to ‘spring forward’

Daylight Saving Time — often referred to as “Summer Time”, “DST” or “Daylight Savings Time” — is a way of making better use of the daylight in the evenings by setting the clocks forward one hour during the longer days of summer, and back again in the fall. The extra hour of daylight in the evening gives children more “outside” play time to help burn off all that energy. It also helps you save on your power bill by reducing the need for artificial light in the early evening hours.
Daylight Standard Time (DST) was formally introduced in the United States in 1918. Today, most of the country and its territories observe Daylight Saving Time. In 2007, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the length of DST in the interest of reducing energy consumption. The new rules increased the duration of DST by about one month. DST will now be in effect for 238 days, or about 65 percent of the year. Daylight Saving Time in the United States begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.
A news release from Ralph Hudgens, Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire commissioner, urges Georgians to change the batteries in their smoke alarms at the same time they change their clocks when daylight saving time begins this Sunday, March 13. In conjunction with the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” fire safety program, Hudgens says the annual change to daylight saving time is a good time to make sure your smoke alarms are functioning properly.
“Every year in Georgia we have numerous fire fatalities in homes that didn’t have smoke alarms, or where the alarms didn’t function,” Hudgens said. “If you have a smoke alarm, make sure it’s in working order. Changing the battery at least twice a year and cleaning dust from the device is an easy way to ensure continued protection of your family and your property.”
According to the news release, this year 29 Georgians have died in 25 residential fires. Fire investigators determined that only two of those homes had a working smoke alarm. In 2015, 83 residential fires in the state resulted in 99 deaths. Of those 83 fires, 75 of the homes did not have a working smoke alarm.
Both the City of Americus and the Sumter County Fire Department are participating in the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” campaign. Both fire departments will provide a smoke alarm, smoke alarm installation, and batteries free of charge to community members. If you live within the city limits of the City of Americus, contact the Americus Fire Department at 229-924-3213. If you reside in Sumter County Fire Department’s jurisdiction,  contact the Sumter County Fire Department at 229-924-6603.
Smoke alarms save lives. A properly installed and tested home fire alarm with a fresh battery is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to protect yourself and your family from a home fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends the following:
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
• Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
• Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer’s instructions for testing and maintenance.
• Replace batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year. If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
• Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly.
• An ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.
Please remember when you “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery!”

Mitzi Parker is Sumter County Extension agent/Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact her at 229-924-4476.