By Tamas Mondovics

The time to turn the clocks back one hour came and went and for most people the only thing changed is getting an hour extra sleep.

But for those residents who are both safety and environmentally conscious, the time change is also a great reminder to do a bit more then catching some extra z’s.

In fact, this time of the year can lead to avoiding a disaster at home.

According to recent press release on the Hillsborough County Website entitled “Be Home Safe and Water Smart for the Time Change,” residents are reminded to test home safety devices and reset sprinkler system timers, too.

The message is simple; When resetting clocks, residents and property owners with automatic sprinkler systems should also consider having timers checked to avoid risking fines for watering at the wrong time and see if irrigation timers have back-up batteries that need changing.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials are urging residents to install fresh batteries and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to protect their family and home.

“When functional, these devices can double a family’s chance of surviving a home fire or an unsafe carbon monoxide level,” said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Ronnie Rivera.

County officials emphasized that according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes where there are no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

A working CO detector is important because carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless, and silently poisons victims without their knowledge.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuel in various products, including furnaces, portable generators, fireplaces, cars and charcoal grills.

Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

In addition to changing smoke alarm batteries, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends the following safety tips:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, both inside and outside any sleeping areas, especially if family members sleep with their bedroom doors closed.
  • Keep smoke alarms clean because dust may prevent them from working properly.
  • Listen for the smoke alarm “chirping” noise which indicates low battery power and replace batteries immediately.
  • Replace smoke alarms about every 10 years. Write the purchase date with a marker on the back of the smoke alarm.

Residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County who do not currently have a smoke alarm may be eligible to have a free one installed. Visit www.HillsboroughCounty.org/Water.