Here's an alarming statistic: Although most U.S. households have at least one smoke detector, one out of five of them won’t work. That's according to the National Fire Protection Association, which reminds us that a smoke alarm without a battery is just a decorative plastic disk.
Let’s talk smoke detectors and fire safety, people. To help keep your family safe in the event of a fire, follow these smoke alarm maintenance tips:
1. Install enough smoke alarms for your apartment or house.
The NFPA recommends a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, near the kitchen, and in the attic and basement (where applicable). That means at least one alarm on each level of the home. If you can, choose interconnected smoke alarms – when one sounds, they all sound.
2. Test it monthly.
Each smoke detector manufacturer has its own recommendations, but generally you'll find a "test" button on the face of the device. That brief pain you feel in your ears is a sign that the smoke alarm is working correctly.
3. Keep the batteries fresh.
If you use alkaline batteries in your smoke alarm, replace them once a year or as soon as the alarm "chirps." Fire departments recommend changing the batteries when you change your clocks back to standard time in the fall. Most smoke alarms use 9V alkaline batteries, and if you really want to make your life easier, buy a 10-year 9V battery.
4. Don't borrow batteries from your smoke alarms.
We understand. Your garage door opener, clock radio or guitar pedal runs out of juice, and you need a quick replacement. Resist the urge to take that 9V battery out of your smoke detector. You know you'll forget to put it back. And a smoke alarm with no battery can't warn you of a fire. Instead, stock up with a 12-pack of our 9-volt alkaline batteries, so you always have power when you need it.
5. Vacuum or dust your smoke detectors.
Dust can build up around the sensor, impeding the smoke alarm's ability to do its job. Whenever you clean up around the house, give your smoke detector a little love, too.
6. Replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
Inside your smoke detector is a neat little sensor that uses either ionization or photoelectric technology. These sensors don't last forever, though, so the NFPA recommends replacing your smoke detectors every 10 years. That includes alarms that have 10-year batteries or are hard-wired into your electrical system.
Functioning smoke alarms and a good escape plan will help keep your family safe in the event of a fire.