End of daylight saving time is a chance to plan for fire safety during fall and winter months ahead

State fire marshal urges Missourians to test smoke alarms, review family fire escape plans, reassess home heating safety and fire prevention measures

State Fire Marshal Tim Bean is recommending Missourians use the extra hour they’ll gain this weekend when clocks “fall back” to take several quick steps to make their families safer at home this autumn and winter. On Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 a.m. clocks “fall back” one hour as daylight saving time ends.

“Each fall, we ask folks to test their smoke alarms and change the batteries when they move their clocks back an hour, but this year we’re encouraging families to go beyond that,” State Fire Marshal Bean said. “We’re urging families to make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room in the house, that fire safety is considered for all electronic equipment, and that if space heaters are used they’re set up safely.”

Bean said that during the pandemic many people have made home renovations, purchased new furniture, exercise equipment and electronics, as well as stocking up on household supplies.

“Some of these changes can affect your ability to exit the residence, or how fast you and your family can get out,” Bean said. “People may be using additional extension cords and multi-plugs because of the electronics they’ve purchased. You want to make sure you’re never overloading electrical outlets and taking all the necessary precautions with extension cords and multi-plugs.”  

Smoke Alarms – All alarms should be tested monthly; press the test button to be sure the alarms are working. Replace all smoke alarms once they’re 10 years old.

Plan Your Escape – Each member of the household should know two ways out of each room. Make sure escape routes are clear of debris and windows open easily. Designate an outdoor meeting place for the family. Regularly practice escape routes will all members of the family.

Extension Cord Safety – Never substitute extension cords for permanent wiring or use them for more than one appliance. Make sure extension cords or power strips are rated for the product to be plugged in. Never cover an extension cord with a rug or carpet; it prevents heat from escaping. Multi plug devices and power strips are designed to be plugged directly into electrical outlets; they should never be chained together.

Space Heater Safety – Space heaters are a factor in about 43 percent of home heating-related fires and 85 percent of associated deaths. They should only be placed on the floor. Never leave a space heater on when you leave a room. Only plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from all heating equipment, including drapes, furniture and electronics.  

Remember, having working smoke alarms in your home is one of the simplest steps you can take to improving your family’s chance of surviving a fire. About 60 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, and one-half of home fire deaths occur overnight, while people are sleeping and might not wake up until it is too late. When people are awake, smoke alarms provide an early warning to a fire.

Across the nation, according to the United States Fire Administration:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms.
  • Thirty-eight percent of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarm was in the home.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
  • One-half of home fire deaths occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep.

For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'