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6 Safety Tips for Smoke Alarms

Have you checked your smoke alarms lately?  It truly is a matter of life or death.

Smoke alarms that are missing or not working play a role in nearly 3 out of 5 fire-related home deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Most homeowners know that it’s important to have these devices installed correctly but it’s even more vital to maintain them, test them regularly, and replace them when necessary.

Whether you’ve just moved into your new home or believe you are all set with the smoke alarm system you’ve had for a while, it’s always best to be cautious and truly understand these devices that can save you and your family’s life in case of a fire.

New fire codes on buildings and updated technology in alarms have made a difference when it comes to early warnings and getting your family outside promptly. Remember, smoke can spread quickly when there is a fire and having an escape plan once your detectors go off is essential.

Here are 6 important safety tips to keep in mind:

1. Replace your alarms if they are 10 years old.

However, consider updating sooner if you can since devices are more advanced now and can better detect different smoke conditions.

Your best bet is a duel sensor smoke detector, that uses photoelectric and ionization technologies that can quickly pick up both smoldering fires (like from a lit cigarette) and highly combustible fires with high flames.  And many devices also have flashing lights when the alarm sounds.

2. Test your all of your home’s alarms once a month.

There is a test button on each device so do this manually. Set a remind or alert on your phone or calendar system so you don’t forget.

3. Change your batteries on all devices at the same time each year and make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions.

We recommend picking a date in January and stick with – a good safety measure (and resolution) for the New Year! And if you hear a “chirping” alert from your detector, it means your battery is low so replace immediately.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide and follow the instructions when replacing your smoke alarm’s batteries – most require a specific brand or model of batteries to work properly.

Keep in mind that some alarms come with non-replaceable 10-year batteries and should be effective for that time period. If the alarm starts chirping, it means the battery is low and you’ll need to replace the entire device right away.

4. Install your smoke alarms correctly and hire a professional for help, especially if they are hard-wired.

Put a smoke alarm in each bedroom, and also outside each sleeping area. You should also have one on each level of your home, including your basement and attic. If you have a large home, you’ll need extra alarms.

According to studies, most fires happen at night or early in the morning when your home is quiet and you’ll be unaware of the smoke if sleeping. And remember to not install one right in your kitchen so it doesn’t go off while cooking (but keep a fire extinguisher nearby!).

If you have an older home that was built to earlier standards, it might not meet current requirements. Double check this!

5. Get smoke alarms that are interconnected, so that when one sounds an alert, they all sound off.

Interconnection can be done using hard-wiring or wireless technology. Make sure you use the same manufacturer for each alarm.

6. Stay informed about safety codes and conduct research when looking for new smoke alarms.

You should understand the different brands and models and select ones that work with your budget and the requirements in your home. Always purchase a device from a recognized testing laboratory. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions for installing, cleaning, testing, and replacing batteries if needed.

As you can see, it’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to the smoke alarms in your home. And please make sure everyone in your family understands the sound of the alarm and what they need to do to exit your home quickly and safely. Every family needs a fire escape plan – and having a smoke alarm is just the first step.