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Firefighters say change batteries with clocks

April 02, 2004

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Fire Department has a simple but important message for area residents: When changing clocks for daylight-saving time, change smoke detector and smoke alarm batteries as well.

The fire department is urging area residents to change their batteries Sunday, the start of daylight-saving time.

The fire department said in a news release that the batteries in 20 percent of area homes are either dead or missing.

Mike Weller, the department's public educator, has said a lack of a properly working smoke alarm or smoke detector is one of the three most prevalent reasons for fire fatalities locally.

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There have been six fire fatalities in Washington County since the start of 2003, Hagerstown Fire Department Deputy Chief Ron Horn said. Two of the fatalities were ruled suicides.

There were four fire deaths reported in the county between 1999 and 2002.

There were 71 fire fatalities in Maryland last year, the third lowest recorded state total, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. However, the office reported fire fatalities totals in 2004 were more than one-third of the way to that point by the beginning of March.

Horn said the department suggests changing the batteries when setting clocks forward or back because it is safer to do so twice annually rather than once.

"Every time you change your clock, you should change your batteries," Horn said. "That way you never forget to do it."

Horn also said people need to put in new batteries quickly if they take them out because the batteries may have gone bad early or the detector stopped working.

"Sometimes people get annoyed with that chirp and take it out, so they forget to change them," Horn said.

He said that practice and taking batteries out for use in toys or remote controls are dangerous.

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