Just last week, Gray and I heard a beeping sound from upstairs. Gray told Matt, who replaced the batteries in the smoke detector a day or two later. The truth is, that’s the only time we change the batteries. But according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, smoke detectors should be checked at least once a month and batteries should be changed at least twice a year.
With next month being National Fire Prevention Month, I thought it would be a good time to remind us all (me included) on how importance this is. After all, according to the Red Cross, a working smoke alarm almost cuts in half the likelihood of dying in a fire.
Allstate.com recommends following these steps for testing:
• Be sure to inform family members that you will be conducting a test.
• Station a family member in the house at the furthest point away from the detector. I would also suggest that you shut any doors if applicable.
• Follow the manufacturer’s directions on testing the alarm. If the sound is weak or if it has been six months since the batteries have been replaced, go ahead and replace the batteries.
• Test the detector with real smoke as well. Light a candle and then blow it out underneath the detector. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the batteries and test again.
The maintenance doesn’t end there. The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends that smoke detectors be replaced every ten years or sooner if the manufacturer’s instructions indicate a shorter life span.
All this sounds to be a tedious little task – just one more thing to add to your ‘to do’ list. But the National Fire Protection Association reports that almost 60% of reported home fire deaths from 2007 – 2011 resulted from fires in homes with either no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. They also said that when a smoke alarm doesn’t operate, it is usually because the batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead. Those facts make this tedious little task seem not so trivial now.