Why You Need to Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Monthly

February 23, 2018

The little things in our homes can be the easiest to forget. Unfortunately, they can also be the most important. That’s definitely the case when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; lifesavers that can be easy to ignore.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half if the house has working fire alarms. Yet, nearly half of home fires that fail to trigger alarms occur in houses where batteries have expired or been removed from a smoke alarm.

We’ve put together some tips to make sure your home is always equipped with properly working alarms.

When to test

Test every smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home once a month. It won’t take more than a few minutes. Just press the test button on your alarm and after a second or two it will make a loud siren or alert.

Check the batteries in your alarms every six months. Replace batteries once a year to be safe (unless it’s a 10-year battery smoke alarm). If you hear random chirps from your alarm, that’s a signal you need to change the batteries immediately.

Pro tip: When testing, have someone walk to other rooms of the house to make sure the alarm can be heard throughout. If the sound is too low, replace the battery or the unit entirely.

They expire so replace them on schedule

Smoke alarms last about 10 years before needing replacement. Carbon monoxide detectors last 5-7 years. After that, deterioration can occur inside the alarm and make it less likely to trigger (besides, technology keeps improving so we recommend staying with the curve).

Detectors today will come with a manufacture date on the back for easy reference. If you have alarm without a date, it’s probably old and in need of replacement.

Pro tip: Consider getting alarms with voice alerts that notify you of which area in the house has been triggered. This will save you from wandering to find that pesky beeping alarm. Studies also show that voice alarms may be better at waking children under age 12.

Taking care of your detectors

Other ideas to keep your detectors in safe, working order:

  • When you test, vacuum any dust buildup out of your detector to keep the unit clean.
  • NEVER take your detector battery out to use in something else, even temporarily.
  • Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Ensure they’re installed on every level of the house, and ideally in every bedroom.
  • You can sign up to receive monthly testing reminders via email from free services, including: http://www.reminders4.me/

Additional Resources

Find the top rated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/smoke-carbon-monoxide-detectors/buying-guide/index.htm

Help increase awareness with smoke alarm outreach materials:

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/smoke_alarms.html

A few minutes a month can ensure that your detectors are ready to help save your family and home in an emergency. If you have any questions about your home’s smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, give us a call at 615.567.1000.

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