Get ready to “fall back” and change your clocks - plus other semiannual chores

Get ready to “fall back” and change your clocks – plus other semiannual chores.

Today is the last day of 2013’s daylight saving time. We officially “gain” one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday as we return to Pacific Standard Time. Reset your clocks and alarms back one hour before going to bed tonight – and enjoy an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning.

Sunday also starts California’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. According to experts, only half of U.S. homes have a working carbon monoxide or CO monitor even though more than 72,000 CO poisoning incidents occur nationwide every year. Odorless and colorless, CO gas is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the U.S.

“Carbon monoxide alarms save lives,” said J. William Degnan, president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals. “Consumers with battery-operated CO alarms should use 10-year batteries in tamper-resistant units to help ensure that they are protected from the silent killer.”

More than three-quarters of all homes have some source of CO such as heaters, ovens or generators – almost anything that burns fuel. Like smoke alarms, CO monitors are now required in most California homes.

One of the biggest complaints home owners have about such monitors are late-night “chirps” to signal when the alarm’s batteries are running low, according to a recent survey by fire safety product maker Kidde. One-third of those surveyed said they waited a day or more to change the battery; 7 percent said they’d rather disconnect the unit than put in a new battery.

That prompted Kidde to develop “Worry Free” smoke and CO alarms that last 10 years with no battery changes; they sound a warning once, at the end of their decade life. They’re available at The Home Depot stores. (For more information, click on

Meanwhile, use this time-switch weekend to take care of other important tasks:

• Change the batteries in existing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

• Change the filters in home heating systems. You’ll save energy and money, too.

• Change the box of baking soda, absorbing odors in your refrigerator, for a fresh box. Instead of tossing the used box, pour that baking soda down the drain. It will freshen the sink’s smell, too. If that sink tends to clog, follow the baking soda with two quarts boiling water (about a teakettle full).

• Mark your calendar for the next time change. Daylight saving time starts again on March 9.

– Debbie Arrington