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Officials: Change your smoke alarm batteries

More than half of the recent fatal fires in Massachusetts this year happened in homes without properly working smoke alarms.

Smoke and fire comes from the scene of a 3-alarm house fire in Saugus on January 6. Scott Eisen/The Boston Globe

More than half of the recent fatal fires in Massachusetts this year happened in homes without properly working smoke alarms, according to fire officials. Twenty-eight people have died in fires in the state since Dec. 1, according to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

“This weekend, when you change your clocks, take the time to put new batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well,’’ said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.

Older adults are especially at risk in home fires. Elderly victims make up one-third of all fire deaths in Massachusetts, according to authorities.

“Many of the fire deaths have been older adults,’’ said Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts. “We encourage seniors to ask for help testing their smoke alarms, replacing the batteries, or installing new ones. Call your local fire department or senior center for help.’’

The number of child deaths from fire in the state has decreased due to the success of awareness programs, according to Lt. Stephen LaVoie, president of the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts. However, the deadly fire that killed two children in Orange earlier this month is a reminder make sure every level of your home has a working alarm and your family has developed and practiced an escape plan, he said.

Smoke alarms should not be more than 10 years old, said DeLorie. And if you are buying a new one, he recommended choosing one with a sealed, 10-year lithium battery.

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