At the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education center, Chief...

At the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education center, Chief John Murray talks about smoke detectors to Logan Scalia, 7, of Massapequa, Tara Seewaldt, 6, and her brother Kevin, 4, of E. Williston. (March 10, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

It's that time again!

As we turned our clocks ahead to daylight saving time this morning, the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center is reminding Long Islanders to also change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

This weekend, the museum is giving away more than 5,000 smoke detectors and asking residents to check that their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.

"It's done this weekend to remind people to tie the two together," said John Murray, chief safety instructor at the museum on Museum Row in Garden City. "Smoke detectors do save lives."

Murray said the devastating fire that killed four children and their grandmother two weeks ago in South Plainfield, N.J., points to the importance of smoke detectors. Officials have said all five were trapped upstairs in their home and died of smoke inhalation. The fire started in the kitchen and smoke alarms were not working in the home. Funeral services for the family were Friday.

"It's a heartbreaking tragedy," said Murray, a lifelong volunteer firefighter from Rockville Centre and former instructor at the Nassau County Fire Service Academy. "There is no excuse not to have a working smoke alarm anymore."

At the museum, Murray guided young visitors and their parents through demonstrations of a working fire, stop-drop-roll techniques and home escape planning. The children also learned about fire prevention and safety techniques from hands-on displays.

Fire detectors "are supposed to be an early warning so you can get out of the house," said Cassandra Scalia, 9, of Massapequa, who was on her first visit to the museum Saturday with her father, Keith, 40, and brother Logan, 7.

Eric and Christine Seewaldt of East Williston also brought their two children, Kevin, 4, and Tara, 6, to the museum for the first time.

"If a fire happens, I learned how to come out the window with a ladder," Tara said. "Once I leave I never go back."

Even her father, Eric Seewaldt, 40, who recently installed new smoke detectors at home, learned a lesson -- get safety ladders.

"We are pretty much up-to-date, but I'll double check," Eric Seewaldt said.

About 2,600 Americans die in home fires every year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The risk of dying from a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home with working smoke alarms.

"Alarms are important so I don't have to get you out of a burning house," said Keith Scalia, a volunteer firefighter with the Massapequa Fire Department. "Save your life and save a firefighter's life."

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