Weekend Time Change Includes Fire & Carbon Monoxide Warnings

While it’s decidedly more attractive to roll our clocks back an hour this weekend to win back the hour that we lost last spring, there are still legions of people in Michigan and elsewhere who despise the whole Daylight Saving Time fiasco, calling it an exercise in futility at best and downright stupid at worst.

Whether you love or hate the time change each year, it’s a necessary evil to keep your life in sync with everybody else being forced to go through the practice. In the long run, we Michiganders apparently brought the issue upon ourselves after initially rejecting the deal. When Congress originally passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966 requiring all 50 states to observe Daylight Saving Time, Michigan voters approved Public Act 6 of 1967, rejecting the practice, leaving the state on Standard Time.

At some point, we either felt the pressure to get back in sync with others or actually wanted to observe the practice once again, because in 1972 Michigan voters actually voted to repeal that act, and we began to change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time again in 1973.

Regardless…it is what it is, and as you set clocks back one hour and “fall back” to daylight saving time this weekend, you are being encouraged by the State Fire Marshal to adopt the life-saving habit of also changing the batteries in your smoke alarms. Eastern Standard Time officially begins on Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 am.

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Kevin Sehlmeyer is the State Fire Marshal for Michigan. He says, “The foam cushions and synesthetic fabrics in household furnishings today produce more heat, thick dark smoke and fire gases than in the past. Early warning by working smoke alarms in your home, improves the ability for your family to get an early warning of a fire and quickly exit your home.” He adds, “There should be a smoke alarm on every level of the home including your basement and in every bedroom (sleeping area). Sunday when you change your clock change the batteries in your smoke alarms.”

Locally, our friend and professional photographer Mark Parren will bear that out. When he lost his home to flames a couple of years ago he attributes the trill of his smoke alarms for saving his life. He’s a hard core supporter of smoke alarms and fresh batteries for them.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 71-percent of smoke alarm failures are a result of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. You should never remove or disconnect batteries from detectors unless you are putting a new battery in. Check your smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they are in working order. If you hear a chirping noise it is likely a warning of a low battery.

Three of every five home fire deaths in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

The State Fire Marshal along with the NFPA recommend the following:

  • Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button.
  • Replace batteries once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
  • Equip your home with multiple smoke alarms in all the bedrooms, outside of each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.
  • Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.
  • Buy newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit.
  • Replace all smoke alarms at least every 10 years, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Choose alarms that bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

For a list of nationally recognized testing laboratories click this link:


Carbon monoxide alarms are also critically important safety equipment in the home. Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. This poisonous gas can come from a variety of sources and can quickly incapacitate and kill its victims.

As we turn back the clocks Sunday for Daylight Saving Time and temperatures continue to fall, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is also reminding residents to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health for the MDHHS. She says, “As it gets colder, we start seeing more carbon monoxide poisonings,” and adds, “To prepare for winter weather, Michiganders should make sure their heat sources and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.”

On average, 145 people are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning each year in Michigan, according to data from the MDHHS Michigan Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MiTracking). These hospitalizations are preventable when people are prepared.

To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, are strongly recommended. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. Daylight Saving Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater, or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Visit Michigan.gov/MiTracking for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.