By Arti Sharma, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
There are those people who will say that a day like November 6th is just like any other day. They don’t understand the others who have been waiting months, anticipating since March 16, for the moment between 1:59AM and 2AM when that sliver of a space created to let time move ahead somehow rather than springing forward, instead falls back. Backwards to where seconds whirl into an hour that has already happened, yet into a place that remains to be created. And, for maybe that magical second, it is possible to refute those who are insistent upon deeming this change insignificant.
Turning back the hands of time has been a subject and muse for great sources of art: from songs and novels to motion picture films, traveling back in time is a concept that continues to fascinate many; and perhaps it plays a part in making days like November 6th a day that is looked forward to as the day that time goes back.
While rewinding time is undoubtedly powerful, this is about something even more empowering than traveling back. It’s about reminding you to check and see if your smoke alarms are working properly. You know, that round thing on your wall that sort of tries to blend in and lay low.
Until you accidentally forget that you left a pie in the oven an hour too long. And then that thing on the wall over there, it all of a sudden becomes red with rage and beeps until it seems every millimeter (or however they measure air these days) of smoke disappears.
Oh, you don’t think that it actually did that this last time you almost burned down the house? Or, maybe it did? Hmm… I think you’d remember something like that, though—that smoke alarm going off, and all. It is stubbornly annoying; ask Phoebe. She knows. With that said, I’m sure you’d remember something like your smoke alarm going off, and because it didn’t; I think that means it’s time to check your batteries.
You—you with your hand up back there—you want to tell me that you wouldn’t ever leave anything unattended while it’s cooking? So, you probably really wouldn’t even know if smoke had been detected by your smoke alarm. You’re the responsible type; I can tell. That’s why you, especially you, should love to take us up on this opportunity that could potentially have a lifesaving impact.
On November 6th, when you responsibly turn your clock back, twist off your smoke alarm and test if the batteries are working…
Just remember these simple to-do’s:
Check smoke alarm batteries. When turning the clocks back, take a few minutes to push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. Replace the batteries at least once a year – if your model requires it. This instructional guide explains how to do it. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.
Install smoke alarms. If you don’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
At your local Red Cross, home fire incidents comprise the majority of our disaster responses throughout the year. Therefore, sadly, the Red Cross witnesses firsthand that the threat of home fires is real. Within counties like Dallas and Tarrant, last fiscal year, Red Cross responded to 337 and 282 incidents of home fires, respectively. Combined, that translates to more than one home fire a day in these territories— the areas we call home. In a home fire, families can lose, very literally, everything. But, many times, home fire victims—in spite of great loss—express gratitude that loved ones fled to safety, that life, compared to even the most prized possessions, was no comparison.
So, what a powerful concept it is, that a small, nondescript thing that is placed on a forgotten place on the wall can—when even the smallest slivers of space on the ticking clock mean the difference between unawareness and escape—in the face of emergency, help fight against suffering and save lives. Please help fight for life and safety by checking your smoke alarms when you turn back time on November 6th.