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Better way to replace batteries

Dear Editor,

Fire departments around the world routinely cajole people into changing their smoke or carbon monoxide alarm batteries at the same time as setting their clocks forward or back in the spring and fall. This practice is riskier that one might think, and may cause more fires than it prevents.

Batteries replaced on a schedule, rather than when they actually need to be replaced, can still carry a significant electrical charge. Stored together, or coming into contact with metals or water, batteries can potentially form electrical circuits, and overheat or even explode, which is surely not what the fire department would like to see.

I would suggest replacing batteries in these devices only when they have run out of charge. The devices themselves are designed to announce low charge by a pattern of beeps. If you feel you must dispose of batteries that may still retain a charge, cover all terminals with adhesive or electrical tape.

Ken Cory