Working smoke alarms are a critical element of home fire safety. Smoke detectors can even mean the difference between life and death, alerting you when you are asleep to the potential threat of smoke or fire in your home. According to the NFPA, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (54%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments from 2014-2018.

The importance of checking them regularly

Age matters when it comes to your smoke detector. Check the manufacture date on your smoke alarm. To do this, first remove it from the ceiling and look at the back of the alarm. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Put the alarm back on the ceiling if it is less than 10 years old.

Changing batteries

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends changing the batteries in your smoke alarm every 6 months. To help you remember, change the batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. When the battery needs to be replaced, the smoke alarm will “chirp” about once every minute.

Where to place your smoke detectors

Smoke alarms should be placed in every bedroom, outside separate sleeping areas, and on every level of your home. The larger your home, the more alarms you will probably need. For best protection, ensure all of your smoke alarms are interconnected so that when one sounds, they all do.

Tips on Preventing/Responding to Fire

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Test your smoke detectors at least once a month by pushing the test button.
  • If the smoke alarm sounds, go outside and stay outside.
  • Call the fire department and stay outside until they say it is safe to enter the home again.

For more information about smoke alarms, visit usfa.fema.gov and nfpa.org.

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