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Are Your Smoke Alarms Working Properly?

As the temperatures drop, people are beginning to turn on their heaters, cooking on the stove more often, and using space heaters. With the increased hazards for house fires, it is the perfect time of year to ensure you have smoke alarms, and they are working properly.

Location matters:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Smoke alarms should not be installed near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from cooking appliances.
  • Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home - when one sounds, they all do.

Maintaining your smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to last up to 10 years.
  • For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace the batteries at least once per year.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly; look on the back of the alarm for the date of manufacture.

Smoke alarms may chirp for a variety of reasons:

  • Loose or improperly installed battery – verify the recommended type of battery is being used, that it is working, securely installed and the battery door is completely closed.
  • Sensing chamber may be dirty – clean the interior of the alarm using compressed air or a vacuum. Clean the exterior of the alarm with a damp cloth and test the alarm after cleaning.
  • Batteries or smoke alarm need to be replaced – the batteries or entire unit may need to be replaced if none of the tips above resolve the solution.

Make a plan:

  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
  • If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Go to your outside meeting place.
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside the home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a house fire in half. Three out of five fire deaths resulted from fires taking place in homes with no working smoke alarms.

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