Seasonal Safety Reminder: When You Change Your Clocks, Check Your Alarms

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STOW — Massachusetts fire officials are reminding residents to check their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms when they change their clocks.
"Working smoke and CO alarms are crucial home safety tools," said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. "As we 'spring forward' this weekend, remember to check your alarms when you change your clocks.  Unless you have newer alarms with sealed, long-life batteries, this is a good time to replace the alkaline batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms or replace the device if it's more than 10 years old."
Winter isn't over yet, State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, and carbon monoxide remains a hazard even in warmer weather.
"Carbon monoxide causes hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of hospitalizations in the United States each year," he said. "Many cases involve furnaces and other heating appliances, but CO is also produced by stoves, grills, and vehicles, as well as generators put into use during a power outage. We can't see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide. Working CO alarms are the only way to detect this invisible killer."
Replace Aging Smoke Alarms
"Just like any appliance, smoke alarms don't last forever," said Chief James Vuona, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. "An alarm's manufacturing date is printed on the back of the device. Smoke alarms need to be replaced after 10 years, and carbon monoxide alarms need to be replaced after five to seven years, depending on the make and model. If your alarm is out of date, or if there's no date at all, it's time to replace the alarm."
Replacement Alarms Should be Photoelectric With 10-Year Sealed Batteries
Replacing your old alarm? The Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code requires replacement battery-operated smoke alarms in older one- and two-family homes to be photoelectric and have sealed, long-life batteries and a hush feature. These alarms are easier to maintain and less likely to be disabled by someone using the batteries for other household appliances.
"Disabling a smoke alarm puts you and everyone in your home at risk," said Chief Vuona. "Test your alarms once a month to be sure you and your family are protected."
Create & Practice a Home Escape Plan
"In the average house fire, you could have less than three minutes to escape after the smoke alarm activates," said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. "Creating and practicing a home escape plan that includes two routes out will help you make the most of that precious time to get outside before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible."
"Working smoke alarms and a practiced home escape plan are among the most fundamental and important tools for surviving a fire," said Chief Vuona. "Be sure everyone in the home knows what to do and where to go when the alarm sounds, including young children, older adults, and persons with disabilities. Always keep doorways, stairways, and windows clear of furniture and other obstructions so you can leave quickly and safely."
Older Adults at Greatest Risk
More than one-third of last year's fire deaths involved adults over the age of 65. In FY23, the Department of Fire Services' Senior SAFE grant program has awarded more than $575,000 to hundreds of fire departments across Massachusetts to support assistance with alarm installation and testing. Seniors who need help testing, maintaining, or replacing smoke alarms should contact their local fire department or senior center for assistance.

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Shoplifters Pinch $37K in Merchandise from Ulta Beauty

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Four people have been charged for lifting thousands of dollars in merchandise from the Ulta Beauty store in Berkshire Crossing. 
Police were called to the store on Monday night by employees of the beauty products salon and arrested four people — two adults and two juveniles — who had more than $5,000 worth of products on them. 
Raquan Cartre, 22, and Jonneasia Welcome, 19, both of Albany, N.Y., are now wanted after failing to appear in Cental Berkshire District Court on Tuesday
District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says more than $37,000 in total has been stolen in four separate incidents from Ulta Beauty just in the last month. Employees have reported that in these incidents the suspects have driven away in a car with New York plates.
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