It is remarkable how many smoke alarms (detectors) I inspect that don’t function properly. An easy way to avoid a possible tragedy in the event of a fire is to have functional smoke alarms in place. Properly maintaining these devices is of the utmost importance. All smoke alarms in your home should be tested monthly and the batteries should be replaced on an annual basis. It is also important to create a fire escape plan for your family and practice the plan at least twice each year. Both of these measures are recommended by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) since they increase protection in the event of a fire.
About 3,000 people lose their lives each year due to residential fires. Most of these victims die from smoke inhalation or toxic gases, not as a result of burns. In addition most injuries and deaths occur at night while victims are sleeping. One of the best measures to protect against fires is the use of properly installed and maintained smoke detectors. They are the least expensive means of providing an early warning in the event of a fire. Since smoke detectors allow residents to detect fires early in there development they save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce property damage.
As mentioned above all smoke detectors should be tested monthly to ensure they operate properly. If the smoke alarm is battery operated the batteries should be replaced each year. It is best to make the replacement of batteries a seasonal routine – like when resetting the clocks for daylight savings in the spring or fall. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when replacing batteries in your smoke alarm.
It is also important to never disconnect a smoke alarm, even if you’re experience “nuisance” alarms while cooking or cleaning. Try cleaning the smoke alarm per the manufacturer’s instructions to resolve nuisance alarms. Another option is to upgrade your smoke alarms to the photoelectric type since they are far less sensitive to common causes of false alarms.
At least one smoke alarm should be installed at every level of a home with the most important location being near bedrooms to alert sleeping occupants. In addition a smoke alarm should be installed in every bedroom. The CPSC recommends the following on smoke alarms:
- Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month
- Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually
We hope this article has explained the importance of properly installed and maintained smoke alarms. Don’t wait for a fire to install smoke alarms and develop a fire escape plan….do it now. Test your smoke alarms regularly and replace it’s batteries annually. Develop and practice your fire escape plan with your family.