The smoke alarm is one of the items on every home inspector’s list, and it should be on your yearly inspection list as well. I know that everyone changes the batteries in their smoke alarm when it begins to beep mercilessly and drive you crazy. But many people simply take the battery out, leaving their family at risk in case of a fire.
A smoke alarm is one of those things that make you incredibly glad you had it when it performs its function properly. Once you and your family are safely outside of a burning home, you’re most certainly glad the smoke alarm woke you up in time to grab everyone and run out. Otherwise the smoke alarm is an annoying piece of the house that just eats a nine volt battery every six to twelve months.
Smoke Alarm Tips
Placement: A single smoke alarm is not enough for the average home. A smoke alarm should be located outside each bedroom, and the inhabitant needs to know what that alarm sounds like and its purpose.
Testing: Smoke alarms have a light on them to indicate power. Most units have a button you can push to make sure the alarm has adequate power, and that the sound is working properly. Test your smoke alarms each month to make sure they’re working properly.
Battery Replacement: Change the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. Mark a date on the calendar if necessary, or make a point to change the batteries every New Year or each time you change the clocks for daylight savings time.
Maintenance: While you’re doing your normal household cleaning, use the vacuum hose with a brush attachment to clean the exterior of the smoke alarm. This will keep dust from clogging up the sensors.
Replacement: Replace each smoke alarm in the house every ten years. If you purchased a home but you aren’t sure when the smoke alarms were last replaced, err on the side of caution and replace them at your earliest convenience.
In addition to the tips listed above, make sure your family is well educated on what to do in case of an emergency. Every household should have an escape plan in case of a fire in any part of the home. If you haven’t already, you need to develop an emergency evacuation procedure and practice it. Ask anyone if they have any questions, and explain the importance of a thorough understanding of the evacuation process.
Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they’re used and maintained properly. Schedule a time during each year to check the battery, change it if necessary, and test the smoke alarm to make sure it is working properly. Most people choose to do this on New Years Day because it is an easy date to remember. Whatever day you choose, make sure your family is properly protected by following the tips above.