Don’t Forget to Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery When You Spring Forward

Smoke detector and battery resting on a calendar with a reminder to replace it's batteries.
JulNichols/ Getty Images

Sorry, folks. We’re losing an hour of time this weekend whether we like it or not.

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 11, 2018. 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.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, dead batteries caused one-quarter of smoke alarm failures in house fires between 2009 and 2013.

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 where working smoke alarms were present.

The association recommends people change their smoke alarm batteries every six months and 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 to power toys or other battery-powered items around your home.

If there’s no room in your budget to buy extra smoke-alarm batteries or you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your home, call your local fire department’s nonemergency phone number for assistance.

“Many fire departments across the country will give residents a smoke alarm or multiple smoke alarms at no charge or come out in the fire truck and do the installation. Some departments have hotlines set up specifically for residents who need a smoke-alarm installation,” Lisa Braxton, public education specialist with the National Fire Prevention Association, told The Penny Hoarder.

“In addition, some fire departments can supply residents with specialized alarms and alert devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, which tend to be more expensive than traditional alarms,” Braxton adds.

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 staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She changed her smoke alarm batteries just before writing this.