This weekend as Missourians gain an hour of daylight, the state fire marshal urges them to also gain peace of mind. He says when you change your clocks, change your batteries in your smoke detectors, too.

State Fire Marshal Randy Cole says more than 70 percent of fatal fires throughout the U.S could be prevented if working smoke detectors were in place. A good way to make sure working batteries are in smoke detectors is to change them each time daylight savings time goes into effect.

Cole says most fire deaths occur between 11 p.m.and 7 a.m., when people are asleep and their homes are dark. That’s when smoke detectors could sound an alarm and prevent tragedies.

The chance of surviving a fire increases 50 percent when you have a working smoke alarm, according to national statistics. Daylight Savings time begins this Sunday at 2 a.m., when the clocks move forward one hour.

He says in addition to changing out the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, individuals and families should get a fire escape plan in place. Cole says a good start is to decide on a common area outside the home — such as by the mailbox — where everyone can meet and be accounted for.

Missouri is joining the nationwide push to “change your clock, change your batteries” this weekend, Cole says.

He recommends for for those who don’t want to waste batteries that might still have life in them — they can save them to use in toys, remote controls and other non-safety devices.

More than 50 Missourians have been killed in fires annually in recent years, many of which could be prevented by smoke detectors in good, working condition, the Fire Marshal’s Office reports.

Photo courtesy State Fire Marshal's Office

Cole says nationwide, 80 percent of the children who die in house fires are killed in buildings without working smoke alarms.

Nationally each year, more than 2,500 Americans die in residential fires; about 15,000 are injured annually, reports the National Safety Council, and  almost 700 people die each year as a result of unintentional poisoning by gases or vapors in non-fire situations. Carbon monoxide is involved in the majority of these deaths.

“Having smoke and CO alarms with fresh batteries is the best way to protect your family in case of a fire,” Cole says. He urges everyone to regularly check smoke and CO alarms by pushing the test button, plan two escape routes from their homes and practice those escape routes with the entire family, pointing out that only 23 percent of U.S. families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.