Are yours working and where they need to be?
When was the last time you checked your home’s smoke alarms? You should be checking and testing all of your smoke detectors monthly by using their “test” buttons; however, if you haven’t been checking them regularly, here are some reasons why you should from the National Fire Protection Association:
- Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no working smoke alarms (17%).
- In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
- Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke-alarm failures.
To make sure your smoke alarms are working well, follow these tips from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA):
- For smoke alarms powered by a nine-volt battery—Test the alarm monthly, replace the batteries at least once every year, and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.
- For smoke alarms powered by a 10-year lithium (or “long life”) battery—Test the alarm monthly; since you can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the lithium battery, replace the entire smoke alarm according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- For smoke alarms hardwired into your home’s electrical system—Test the alarm monthly; replace the backup battery at least once a year; replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years (only qualified professionals should install hardwired smoke alarms).
And an important USFA reminder: If your smoke alarm sounds while you are cooking or because of bathroom steam:
- Open a window or door and press the “quiet” or “hush” button.
- Wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air.
- Move the entire alarm several feet away from the kitchen or bathroom if needed.
- Never disable an alarm or remove the battery to silence it—that can be a deadly mistake.
For more information about smoke-alarm testing and placement, including educational materials in English and Spanish, visit USFA. For assistance with installing smoke alarms and other home safety features, contact a licensee of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board, and check professionals’ licenses at https://search.dca.ca.gov.