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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 Sunday. On average, home fires kill seven people every day. No one should be injured or lose a life because of a nonworking smoke detector.

This is the 26th year the International Association of Fire Chiefs 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 make a difference and 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. Yes, I know Thursday is Halloween – but as distracting as the holiday may be, your family’s safety is more important. If you’re buying 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 your smoke detectors and test the alarms.

Stumped by granddaughter

Dear Abby: My granddaughter asked me a tough question today. She lives primarily with her mother and stepfather. Her biological father sees her two nights a week and every other weekend. When he asks her if she misses him, she says she has to lie and say she does. She hates lying and asked me how she can tell him she doesn’t miss him very much without hurting his feelings. Can you give me some ideas?

Stuck for a Response in Nevada

Dear Stuck: Your granddaughter should say, “Dad, please don’t worry about me, because I’m fine. I am adjusting.” Period. It’s the truth, it’s not unkind, and she won’t have to feel like she’s saying anything that should upset him.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.