"Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery."

That's the message of the Murray Fire Department that's kicking off a major fire prevention campaign Oct. 28 - the day Utahns turn their clocks back an hour to change to standard time."Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery" encourages people to make a habit of changing the batteries in their home smoke detectors each fall when they adjust their clocks.

"Our goal is to get all Murray citizens thinking about strengthening their first line of defense against fire as we go into the peak fire season," said department Chief Wendell D. Coombs. "Last year, 5,000 people died and another 30,800 were injured in home fires in the United States."

Coombs says more than half of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented if smoke detectors had been installed - or those already installed, were working.

"The simple act of changing the battery in a smoke detector may be the single most easy, effective and accessible way to make a difference in the number of deaths and injuries caused by fire," Coombs stressed.

Seventy-five percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke detector. But the International Association of Fire Chiefs estimates as many as half are not working because of old or missing batteries.

In Murray, the statistics are worse. About 30 percent of homes don't have smoke detectors, and only half of the existing ones don't work due to mechanical failure or missing batteries, said Jess Burbidge, fire inspector for the Murray Fire Department.

"The problem is that most people simply don't think about maintaining smoke detectors once they install them," Burbidge said. "The same is true of other home safety devices, such as flashlights that can help light the way to safety - especially when a fire occurs at night. The same holds true with the use of fire extinguishers in the home."

Burbidge said proper maintenance of smoke detectors includes checking the batteries once a month and changing them once a year. When purchasing smoke detectors, look for the Underwriters Label (U.L.) on the product. If it's missing, don't purchase the unit, Burbidge recommends. The underwriters label insures that the unit has been tested and approved.

"Statistics show that a working smoke detector can help double the chances of surviving a fire," Coombs said. "A battery to keep it working is a small price to pay for that kind of protection."



Low- or no-cost detectors, batteries

Murray Fire Department will help "Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery"

- Batteries and smoke detectors will be provided for the elderly, handicapped and low-income citizens in Murray.

- Special coupons will be available for smoke detectors at a low price.

- People who can't afford the detectors should call the department for assistance.

- The fire department will do home safety inspections Oct. 27-29.

- Information on smoke detectors and other areas of fire safety is available by calling 264-2681.