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Spring forward, and be safe

Fire crews respond to house fire on Ivy Street
Fire officials urge people to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors along with resetting their clocks this weekend

This is the weekend to spring forward by advancing our clocks one hour.

The Medford Fire Department suggests adding some other quick tasks: Ensure the effectiveness of home smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Sometimes available as a single product, these devices can save lives — but only if they are working properly, said Samantha Metheny, the department’s deputy fire marshal and public educator.

Replacing smoke alarm batteries during the annual change to Daylight Saving Time goes back many years. In Oregon, all new homes and significantly remodeled homes have been required to have hardwired smoke alarms since 1983.

Many dwellings are older than that in this area, so battery-powered smoke detectors are used instead.

Carbon dioxide detectors have been required since 2011 in Oregon homes sold or rented if they contain a source of carbon dioxide, such as fuel, coal and wood-burning appliances, as well as gas heaters and attached garages, Metheny noted.

Houses constructed in 2011 or later require them even without any carbon monoxide presence, and so do dwellings that will be subject to work that requires a building permit.

Both types of detectors should be tested monthly. Batteries in both should be replaced annually unless the devices are powered by 10-year batteries.

Metheny suggests that people using such long-life batteries write the date of installation inside the device so you can keep track of how long the device has been in use.

Such early-warning devices provide what could be the only advance warning of the potential danger that could result from an electrical failure or carbon monoxide leak.

Smoke detectors need to be replaced within no more than 10 years, while carbon monoxide detectors should be changed every five to seven years.

Metheny has personal experience about the importance of the devices. Her heater at home had a wiring problem. If she had ignored the sounds of the detector and the faint smell of smoke for too long, the malfunctioning heater could have caused a fire.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she warned.

Reach reporter Terri Harber at tharber@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.