When changing the time on your clocks today, don’t forget about the batteries in your smoke alarms.

So says Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty, who’s stressing the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home.

With the start of Daylight Saving Time, comes another reminder from Doherty to replace smoke alarm batteries each spring or fall with the time change.

“It’s just a good reminder when you change your clocks, change those batteries in your smoke alarms. You should be testing them at least once a month, just to make sure they are operating.”

Smoke alarms need to be maintained, Doherty says. “It’s probably your most important aspect of getting out of a fire safely.”

However, he says homes with no smoke alarms, or no working smoke alarms, are still a common problem.

According to Doherty, fire crews are starting to see fires spread “really quickly” in homes. This includes older homes that have been renovated with new furnishings and materials.

This means there’s “much less time to escape a fire nowadays.”

“You used to have upwards of 17 minutes to get out, but now the studies and the signs are starting to show us that as little as one to two minutes is all you really have to get out,” Doherty explains. “So early detection from a smoke alarm is critical.”

If you have any fuel-burning appliances in your home or an attached garage, Doherty recommends installing a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.

And, if your smoke alarms are out of reach, Doherty is offering a simple solution: “The test buttons are easily accessible on the face of the alarms, so a broom handle can do that for you.”

“I’ve also seen in some situations where they’ve got the remote systems or Bluetooth detectors, where you can actually mount one of the walls within reach,” he adds. “So when you test that alarm, the one of the ceiling and the other ones in the home will go off.”

Doherty says having a sufficient number of properly-located, working smoke alarms in accordance with the British Columbia Building Code is key. You should have a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each floor of your home.