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A 5 min. task that could save your life

For many, the start of the new school year is almost as defining a point as starting the year in January.

Yes, most of those resolutions have long since fallen by the wayside. Those of us who have made it to the gym the same number of times a week that we said we would in January are the exception more then the rule, but there is another January commitment, that we need to all ensure that we do make time  for: changing batteries in smoke detectors.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that smoke detectors be tested at least once a month, and the batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. That means that if the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke detector was in January, then you are overdue.

While you are up there changing the batteries, don’t forget to test the smoke detector too. Some of us accidentally “test” the smoke detector every time we make toast, but it is still good to double check.

A new smoke detector can cost as little as $5 and can save lives and thousands of dollars in damage just by giving your family an extra few minutes to escape and an extra few minutes to call the fire department.

Both the city and county fire departments have high ratings for response times, but they don’t come until they get a call, and they don’t get a call until the homeowner, a neighbor or a security system calls them.

If you are not confident in your ability to check your smoke detector on your own — either because it is in a hard to reach spot or you just don’t feel comfortable standing on a ladder to reach for it — this is one of those occasions where it is essential to ask for help. Ask a neighbor, a church member, a family member, a friend or even a firefighter for help with your smoke detector.

It may be frustrating to ask for help on something this simple, but the people in your life who care about you will be glad you did if the worst case scenario does happen, and you do face a fire.

Finally, we ask that you take a walk to the end of your driveway with your family, and discuss your family’s emergency plan for where to meet if there is a fire. Just knowing where to look for your loved ones in an emergency situation may save time and stress in the long run.