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It's a bad decision on the face of it from a public perspective.

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11/2/2013
Time change

Note to self: Change clocks back.

This weekend it's back to daylight savings time.

Last Sunday's 3 o'clock in the afternoon will be this Sunday's 2 p.m., giving the weekend an extra hour.

With the extra 60 minutes, much can be done.

Key among the possibilities is six-month checks around the house, including a look at smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

No time is good for a home fire, but with winter coming, it is even worse. For one, it will be too cold to be forced outdoors in pajamas; secondly, it's possible the streets will be slick with ice and snow, increasing the challenges for firefighters coming to the rescue. Plus, no one wants to be homeless in the winter.

Batteries do not last forever in alarms. The state fire marshal recommends changing them regularly, and the changing of the clocks twice a year serves as a reminder. Between buying new batteries at the store and installing them, it likely will take less than an hour.

While different batteries have different lifespans, it is appropriate to check them every six months. Maybe they need to be changed only annually, or some might hold power longer. But it's important to verify that they are working and that the smoke alarm is operating correctly.

The reason the fire authorities are adamant about this reminder is that 57 percent of fatal Alaska fires during the past two years involved structures that had no working smoke alarms. They might have had the alarms installed, but they weren't working, which means maintenance, such as replacing batteries, hadn't been done. In another 34 percent of the fires, it couldn't be determined, likely because of their severity, whether smoke alarms were installed and operating. That's 91 percent total.

It isn't necessary to wait for a reminder or for a time change to check alarms, there's wisdom in a monthly press of the test button, too.

But for those who need reminders, Alaska has a website provided by the Division of Fire and Life Safety (www.akburny.com), where Alaskans can click on the smoke alarm reminder link. There, they can sign up for monthly email reminders to check their fire alarms.

For those of us who need reminders to change the time on clocks, new electronics provide numerous options. If that doesn't work, when we show up late for church on Sunday, we'll get the message.