DEAR ABBY: Printing this letter could save some lives -- maybe even your own.
In the United States, eight people die every day (on average) in house fires. Tragically, about half of these deaths could have been prevented with an inexpensive device that takes just a few minutes to install and costs only a few dollars to maintain.
I'm talking about smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are the cheapest life insurance money can buy. They are one of the most successful public health innovations in history, but 71 percent of smoke alarms that failed to operate during the last year had missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
For the 28th year, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is proud to partner with Energizer, the manufacturer of batteries, flashlights and lanterns, in the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery program. Together, we're asking your readers to make sure they have working smoke alarms that have been installed correctly, and to test their existing batteries -- or install fresh ones -- in conjunction with the end of daylight saving time on Sunday, Nov. 1.
In a fire, seconds count. A working smoke alarm can literally mean the difference between life and death. This program ensures that residents will have a working smoke alarm, giving them and their families the critical early warning needed to escape a fire. That precious time also helps to protect firefighters, reducing the likelihood they'll have to enter a burning home to rescue someone trapped inside.
Learn more about the program by visiting energizer.com/firesafety or the IAFC at iafc.org. Readers should also check with their local fire departments because many of them offer discounted or free programs to install working smoke alarms in low-income areas in their communities. Thanks, Abby. -- FIRE CHIEF RHODA MAE KERR, IAFC PRESIDENT AND CHAIR OF THE BOARD
DEAR CHIEF KERR: I'm pleased to publicize your lifesaving effort. Readers, daylight saving time is also lifesaving time. Changing and testing the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when setting the clocks back can save your lives and the lives of the people you love. Every family should also have a fire safety evacuation plan and practice it so that everyone is prepared to evacuate should an emergency occur. A great start to establishing that safety plan is to recognize that this is the ideal time to buy and install those batteries.