Smoke Alarm Safety

smoke around a smoke detector

As a child, you heard all about smoke alarms and what to do if they went off. But after leaving elementary school, have you considered them regularly. Smoke alarms are an incredibly important safety measure in your home.

When used correctly, smoke alarms can save lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the death rate is more than twice as high in homes that do not have working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms give occupants an early warning, increasing their escape time, which truly makes a difference as more about half of fire deaths occur overnight when most people are sleeping.

Smoke alarm safety begins with making sure your smoke alarms are working. Here are some tips to make sure your smoke alarms are functioning correctly and ready to keep your family safe.

  1. Test smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button.
  2. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year, preferably twice. If a smoke alarm starts chirping, indicating the battery is low, replace it immediately. Dead batteries cause 25% of smoke alarm failures.(NFPA)
  3. Smoke alarms that are all connected are more effective. When one sounds, the rest of them will, alerting all areas of the house.
  4. Install both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms to make sure that any fire in your home can be quickly detected.
  5. Replace all smoke detectors every 10 years, or if they no longer sound when testing by pressing the test button.
  6. There should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and on every level of the home. There should even be one in an unfinished basement.
  7. Don't forget the Carbon Monoxide detectors as well, which should be on each level of the home.
  8. Smoke alarms are most effective when placed on a ceiling or high on a wall. They should be at least 10 feet away from stoves, to avoid false alarms when cooking.
  9. Sleeping children (and some adults) may not always hear smoke alarms. Make sure that, as a part of your family fire escape plan, all children and adults who are heavy sleepers will be woken up by another adult.
  10. Make sure all family members know what your smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one sound. A fire escape plan is essential and should be practiced multiple times, and throughout the years.

October is Fire Prevention Month, which is a great time to review your fire escape plan and even run a family fire drill. During the month, you'll probably see quite a few reminders about fire safety in your home, making it an excellent time to replace batteries. Another tip is to replace the batteries in smoke alarms when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings.

Stay safe and make smoke alarm safety a priority in your home.