ClockAt 3.00am this Sunday, April 1 the states in Australia that observe DST need to put their clocks back 1 hour. In other words 3.00am becomes 2.00am.

Those of us that have gadgets that display time and are set to use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international time standard (Which is the current term for what was commonly referred to as Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT)) should not need to to worry as the change should be automatic. That is if the programmer bothered with the extra two lines of code to allow this. For those that don’t and for the myriad of other devices that need adjusting you may just need to RTFM.

There is plenty of debate to be found on the merits of daylight saving time (DST) so I will not go into it.

Since the year 2000, as part of the “National Change Your Clock, Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery campaign”, Fire and Rescue services have been advising residents to replace old smoke alarm batteries when daylight saving comes to an end.

Apparently smoke alarms last for about ten years. Most of us are probably familiar with the Ionisation type, these are easily identified by the radioactive symbol that is displayed on them.  With Ionisation type smoke alarms the alpha particles collide with the air in the ionisation chamber to produce charged particles called ions. A low-level electric voltage is applied to the chamber to collect these ions, causing a steady electric current to flow. Smoke or hot air entering the chamber changes the rate of ionisation and the electric current level, triggering an alarm.

Ionisation smoke alarms are more prone to nuisance alarms from cooking, such as the use of toasters, grillers, birthday cake candles and the like. A survey has shown that apparently 4 out of 10 people take batteries out because of these false alarms.

New technology is available in the form of photoelectric smoke alarms. Photoelectric smoke alarms are superior to ionisation smoke alarms as they are more effective, quicker and less prone to false alarms. They have a chamber with a light source where visible smoke entering the chamber makes the light scatter. When this scattering reaches the required amount the alarm is then triggered.

So if your smoke alarm is ten years old then you must upgrade for your own safety and that of your family. When upgrading consider switching to photoelectric smoke alarms. They are apparently the same cost as the older technology and, as stated before, they are superior.

If your budget allows then move to hard-wired alarms and remove the need for batteries altogether.

Want to know what to do with your old batteries? Check out the advice on Planet Green Recycling. – Planet Green Recycling is an Australian website that has a lot of great information about recycling.

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