We all have smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors, but most of us forget about them until they chirp loudly saying “low battery!”. Smoke detectors are a vital piece of equipment to allow extra minutes or even seconds to get out in case of a fire. They must be maintained properly! Here’s a checklist for regular smoke detector safety:
- You should have one on every level of your home, and in each bedroom. In case there is a fire, it will be quick for a smoke detector to sense the smoke, and alert you so you can get out of your home quickly. One in the main living area is not sufficient!
- Test them every single month, following manufacturer instructions. **Never test with real smoke – use the TEST button! – There is a button in the middle of the smoke detector that should allow you to test the beep from that detector.
- Change batteries every 6 months, or when they chirp for “low battery”, so that you never have to wonder if it will do it’s job.
- Replace all smoke detectors no less than every 10 years. Most are rated for 10 years, and after that should absolutely be replaced so you can ensure they work properly. After 15 years, the changes are more than 50/50 that your smoke detector will not alert in the case of a fire.
- Vacuum them periodically to remove dust (cans of compressed air work too). Making sure the air vents are unobstructed is so important in allowing any smoke particles to trigger the alarm.
- Never remove batteries or “Borrow” batteries from a smoke detector. Chances are, you’ll forget to replace them and your smoke detector will be useless.
- Consider inter-connected smoke detectors! These work as an inter-linked system to alert throughout your home, instead of just one room. These increase your chances of hearing the smoke detector right away.
- Make sure everyone in the home can identify and awaken to the noise of a smoke detector. This is important to not waste precious time in case of a real fire.
- Plan regular fire drills to ensure everyone in the home knows what to do in the event your smoke detector does go off. Make sure each person has 2 ways out of their room, and know where to meet.
- When in doubt, replace your smoke detector! An easy tip to remembering how old your unit is, is to write the installation date in Sharpie on the housing. This makes it easy at a quick glance to see the age of your smoke detector.
Fire safety is so important, and smoke detectors are our first line of defense to be prepared and move quickly. Be diligent about checking and maintaining them!