DEAR ABBY: I am a fire officer who has seen too many families experience accidental home fires, many with fatal results. It is devastating to find out that a life could have been saved had someone taken the simple precaution of replacing a dead battery in a smoke alarm.

In a recent survey, more than 50 percent of the respondents admitted to removing the batteries in their smoke detector, leaving them inoperable. A working smoke alarm in your home greatly increases your chance of surviving a home fire, but only if it is functional.

Please remind your readers to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when they turn their clocks back to standard time on Nov. 3. On average, home fires kill seven people every day. No one should be injured or lose a life because of a non-working smoke detector.

This is the 26th year the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Energizer have collaborated on the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery Program. What may seem like a tedious task can be lifesaving. A working smoke alarm can give families precious extra seconds to get out safely. If you help me circulate this important safety reminder, together we can save some lives. — William R. Metcalf, president, IAFC

Dear Officer Metcalf: I hope my readers will take your letter to heart as I have, and buy those replacement batteries TODAY if they haven’t already. Your family’s safety is important. If you’re buying Halloween candy, grab some batteries. On Saturday night you’ll be turning your clocks back an hour. Before you do, be sure you insert fresh batteries in smoke detectors and test the alarms.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.