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Change clocks, batteries

ALBANY, Ga. -- It is that time of year again. Switch the clocks back an hour Sunday to Eastern Standard Time and change the batteries in all your smoke detectors, said Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell.

And while you are at it, make sure your heater, heating ducts and space heaters are clean and properly maintained.

"All it takes to do something that might save your life is changing the battery in your smoke detectors," Carswell said, "and have your heater cleaned and properly maintained for the cold weather."

The start of the winter season always brings calls to fire stations when residents start up their heaters because heaters sometimes smell when not clean.

The ducts should be cleaned, wall-mounted heaters should be vacuumed and any debris such as a child's toy or anything else should be removed from the heater.

"We had a fatality about three years ago when an elderly man stacked newspapers next to his heater forgot about it and turned his heater on," Carswell said. "Placement of space heaters is another thing."

Electric or kerosene heaters should have space left around them so they cannot set anything on fire. Check an electric heater for frayed wires.

Don't overload circuits with an electric heater. If necessary use extension cords that have the proper amp load rating.

Burning kerosene produces dangerous fumes so there must also be proper ventilation in the room. Keep kerosene stored in metal containers in well ventilated areas outside the residence.

Keep children away from space heaters. There is a danger that they could tip them over or that their clothing could ignite.

A FEMA publication, the "Topical Fire Report Series," stated that less than 1 percent of fires ignited in residences by portable heaters are confined fires. Unconfined fires such as ones started by heaters can result in serious injury and large losses of property.

Pamphlets with information on winter safety tips for the home and home smoke alarm maintenance are available from the main fire station at 320 N. Jackson St.