San Diego, California - This Sunday: March 9, it will already be daylight-saving time again. Yes, this is the time change when we lose an hour, so we understand you might be a little groggy as you wander from room to room resetting clocks. But the County Fire Authority and the Burn Institute are asking you to stay sharp enough to check your smoke detectors too.

“Smoke detectors can make the difference between life and death in house fires,” said Greg Schreiner, Fire Marshal for the San Diego County Fire Authority.

“Fire fatalities are extremely rare in homes that are equipped with working smoke detectors,” added Schreiner, who has over 30 years’ experience in the fire service. “Unfortunately, some people forget the smoke detectors are there and let the batteries go dead, or they never get around to installing smoke detectors at all. So it’s smart to use the time change as a reminder.”

Smoke detectors are particularly effective in alerting people to trouble when they are the most vulnerable—at night, when they are asleep and unaware of their surroundings.  About two-thirds of fire deaths in the U.S. occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

For older adults who may not be able to evacuate as quickly or who may need assistance, smoke detectors are particularly critical. About 75 percent of older Americans who die in house fires have no working alarm, according to the Burn Institute.

If you’re a senior without working smoke alarms, the Burn Institute wants to help with its Senior Smoke Alarm Program, which offers adults over 62 who own their homes free detectors and installation.

“One way seniors can improve the chances of escaping a home fire is by making sure their home is equipped with a working smoke alarm, and to maintain those alarms by changing the batteries at least once a year,” said Susan Day, Burn Institute Executive Director.

Call 858-541-2277 or get details on the Senior Smoke Alarm Program online. For more on proper maintenance and installation on smoke detectors, see the Burn Institute’s tips.  

Checking your smoke detectors: It’s as easy as re-setting your clocks, and just as important.