It’s Time to Spring Forward Again — and Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery

A woman jumps from winter to spring in this photo illustration.
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Sorry, folks. We’re losing an hour of time this weekend whether we like it or not.

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 14, 2021. That means most of us in the U.S. have to move our clocks ahead one hour at 2 a.m. to keep up with the time change. (Hawaii and most of Arizona get to keep their hour.)

When you’re running around the house changing the time on your clocks (don’t forget the coffee pot!), there’s one other important task you should do at the same time: Change the batteries in all your smoke alarms.

Dead batteries caused 26% of smoke alarm failures in house fires between 2014 and 2018, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

What’s more, the association says, the death rate from fires in homes without working smoke alarms is more than twice that of house fires with working smoke alarms.

The association recommends people check their smoke alarm batteries once a month and change the batteries at least once a year. They should replace the entire unit after 10 years.

If you stick to the suggested battery-replacement schedule, chances are the existing batteries will still have some juice left in them.

Even so, don’t leave them in your smoke alarm. Instead, use them in battery-powered items around your home, such as toys.

If you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your home, you may be able to get one for a reduced price or even for free from your local fire department, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

When you’re already giving up an hour this weekend because of Daylight Saving Time, fussing with your smoke alarm can seem like a nuisance.

But taking a couple of minutes to change the batteries on the alarms in your home could save your life — and your family’s.

Lisa McGreevy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.