More Smoke Alarm Tips

Thousands of lives could be spared and thousands of injuries could be prevented each year if every home had working smoke alarms.

Follow these tips to help keep you and yours safe:

  1. If your home currently has only one type of smoke alarm (ionization or photoelectric), install additional smoke alarms of the second type or dual-sensor alarms, which combine both technologies. Having both types of smoke alarms will protect you from both fast-moving and smoldering fires.
  2. If your household includes children, the elderly, or hearing impaired individuals, keep their special needs in mind. Children and older individuals may not hear smoke alarms while they're sleeping. Those who are hearing impaired need to be able to see visual alarms during waking hours and other devices (vibrating bracelets, bed shakers, etc.) must be able to wake them from a sound sleep. Make sure that everyone in the house is familiar with the escape plan and that the plan accounts for providing any necessary assistance to these individuals.
  3. It is recommended that each bedroom has a smoke alarm. This is even more important if members of the household sleep with their doors closed. Closed doors may hinder an individual's ability to hear smoke alarms, putting them in additional danger in the event of a fire.
  4. For battery-powered alarms, make sure you know which type of battery the alarm takes (9-volt vs. 10-year). For 9-volt battery-powered alarms, keep extra batteries on hand.
  5. Hardwired alarms may also have backup batteries that kick in during power outages. Change these batteries twice a year even though they may be used infrequently. It can be easy to forget that your hardwired alarm also has batteries. Pick easy-to-remember dates, like Daylight Savings Time, to replace the batteries.
  6. Don't rely solely on the alarm's "chirp" to remind you about low batteries. While an alarm that's silent usually indicates that all is well, it may also indicate that it's not working at all. Be proactive in testing and maintaining your alarm!
  7. If the alarms sounds while you're cooking, don't take the batteries out! Press the hush button, turn on a fan, open the window, or wave a towel underneath the alarm. If you take the batteries out, you may forget to put them back in, leaving your home and family vulnerable to fire.
  8. Familiarize yourself with your smoke alarm's manual. Different manufacturers have different guidelines on when alarms should be replaced. Most units should be replaced after 8 to 10 years, but this may vary from brand to brand.
  9. Do you have a nuisance alarm? One that goes off frequently while you're cooking or for seemingly no reason? If your alarm sounds often while you're cooking, move it a few feet further from the kitchen or cooking appliances. Alarms that sound when no smoke/fire is present should be cleaned using a vacuum hose attachment. Regular cleaning helps to keep smoke alarms functioning properly. And if the unit still does not seem to working as it should even after moving it, cleaning it, and changing the batteries, you should replace the unit.
  10. Rental properties should also be outfitted with smoke alarms according to local regulations. If you are a renter, check your state's requirements to ensure that your home is in compliance. If it's not, talk to your landlord about having additional/different alarms installed in the property.
  11. If there is a fire, get out of the house as quickly as possible (crawling underneath smoke, if necessary). Once you're out, stay out - Never go back into a burning building!

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