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November 5, 2010

As we turn back the clocks this weekend, it is a great time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors because winter is the most dangerous season for residential fires and CO poisoning caused by heating systems.

Daylight savings time ends this year at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7 and clocks get turned back one hour.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a reminder to change the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries this weekend and that people should test these alarms monthly for proper operation. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available.

“Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year.”

According to the CPSC, people should install smoke alarms on every level of the home outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. They should install CO alarms on each level and outside sleeping area, however should not install them in the attics or basements unless these are sleeping areas.

Home heating is the second leading cause of all residential fires and a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. The number of heating system related fires and CO incidents dramatically increases during the winter months.

Defective, dangerous or unmaintained heating sources can be hazardous. Property owners should have a heating check-up from a heating professional of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents each year to ensure heating systems are operating properly.

Having working smoke and CO alarms dramatically increases the chances of surviving a fire or accumulation of CO.

The CPSC also wants consumers to test electrical outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, called GFCIs or GFIs, this weekend and then again monthly. The CPSC has published a GFCI Fact Sheet for consumers.

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