October is fire safety month, and you may have seen some reminders on Facebook from your local fire department or city officials to run through a few basic safety checks to ensure your family and home are safe. The end of the year is also a great time to review all aspects of your home for updates, repairs, and any other potential safety issues.
Check the Date
A surprise to many, smoke detectors do have an expiration date. Before changing the battery as recommended below, take a look on the back side of the alarm for its manufactured date. If this date is 10 years old or more the smoke detector should be replaced.
Change the Battery
Even if the smoke alarm isn’t sounding the constant low-battery beep, it is best to refresh the device with a new battery. Not only will this help prevent your smoke detector from giving off that annoying beep, but you can also be rest assured your smoke alarm will work as it should, when it should.
Run a Test
Verify the new battery was installed properly and that it isn’t a dud. Each of your smoke detectors should have a test button. Press and hold this button and be prepared for a loud, ear-piercing siren to follow. If the alarm does not sound, or sounds weak, then try a new battery and test again. If the issue persists, replace your detectors.
Check Where They Were Installed
This isn’t a common consideration, or even something that may come up during the annual reminder to test your smoke detector. However, take a look at where your smoke detectors are located. They should not be in corners, and there should be detectors on every level of your home and in or just outside of each sleeping area. If installing a new smoke detector, follow the manufacture’s guidance on optimal product placement.
Invest in Technology
Technology has done amazing things in our world—even enhancing basic tools like smoke alarms. Two technological considerations to make are:
Dual-Sensor Smoke Detectors
There are two common styles of smoke alarms systems: photoelectric and ionization.
There are two types of fires: a flame-igniting fire (like those stemmed from cooking) and a smoldering fire (old wiring). Each type of fire produces a different type of smoke, which can influence when a smoke alarm goes off.
An ionization smoke alarm typically goes off sooner at the presence of smoke caused by flame-igniting fires than photoelectric. Photoelectric smoke alarms typically respond faster to smoke caused by smoldering fires. Because each alarm system can respond in better fashion towards one type of smoke over another, and because we cannot predict which kind of fire could start in our home, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing dual sensor smoke detectors (ones with both ionization and photelectric sensors) or at least installing one of each.
Wireless Interconnected Smoke Alarms
In addition to the above considerations for a new smoke detecting system, installing a system that is wireless and interconnected can also provide enhanced awareness to the presence of smoke by setting off all of the alarms when one is triggered. This can be especially helpful if the fire starts at the opposite end of the house or on another floor—everyone can be alerted regardless of where they are in the home and take the necessary steps to safely evacuate and call for help.