Preparing Your Home to Spring Forward

March 6th, 2024

“Change your clocks, change your batteries.” 

On March 10, 2024, it is time to change clocks an hour ahead in preparation for spring. At the same time, it is great to also change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.  

Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as ‘invisible killer’ is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane burn incompletely (are not vented properly). Exposure to CO can lead to symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to unconsciousness and even death. 

During the cold months, CO poisoning is more common due to cold weather conditions, but it can happen at any time, and it is good to be prepared for it by having CO alarms installed throughout the house just like smoke alarms. Both can save lives when smoke or CO is detected.  

Just like smoke alarms, CO alarms also need their batteries changed every 6 months. Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs created a program called “change your clocks, change your batteries.” This program creates a reminder to change the batteries in these alarms at least twice a year to keep them operating.  

Having smoke alarms that are working properly can “cut nearly in half your risk of dying in a fire,” says the Red Cross. 

Graham Fire & Rescue offers free smoke and CO alarms to residents who may have financial or physical challenges obtaining them. Please click here to request a smoke and/or CO alarm installation  

Changing clocks for spring forward is not only an opportunity to replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms but also a good time to prepare your home for spring.  

The number of wildfires in Western Washington has increased over the past few years due to warmer and dryer weather in the summer months. This has increased the need to spread awareness about how to prepare/protect your home from wildfire.  

The spring months are a perfect time to get out in the yard and start planting trees, bushes, flowers, and more. When planning out what to buy at the store, think in terms of defensible space. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation, debris, and other types of combustible fuels have been treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of fire to and from the building.” 

During a wildfire, embers can travel up to a mile away from where the fire is. These embers can get into small spaces and can ignite a fire. By clearing homes of debris, vegetation, and other types of combustible fuels it decreases the risk a home has of catching fire.  

Additional tips for creating a defensible space include: 

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles that could catch embers. 
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. 
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration. 
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken window screens or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating. 
  • Keep lawn and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches. 
  • Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot catch the crowns. Prune Trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height. 

Remember these tips when ‘springing forward’ this March and continue routine maintenance in the yard this season to keep up with the defensible space.  

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