Each year, when Daylight Saving Time returns and we change our clocks, we are also reminded by fire departments across the country to check our smoke alarms and to change their batteries if necessary. But if your smoke alarms have “long-life” batteries or are hard-wired, is this advice still timely?
One word, from the U.S. Fire Administration and others: Yes!
Although long-life batteries are sometimes called “10-year” batteries, not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years. A recent study in Dallas, TX, showed a marked reduction in working smoke detectors due to battery failure after six years and according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
So yes, you should still test your smoke alarms at least twice a year. In fact, the NFPA recommends testing your alarms once a month. Get the basics of home smoke alarms, including how to test them, from this 2-minute video.
It is important to recognize that even hard-wired alarms can fail, so they also need to be tested. The NFPA recommends replacing any smoke alarm after 10 years.
When testing your smoke alarm, it is critical to make sure that everyone in your home is familiar with your home’s escape plan. You can learn more about planning and practice your escape at homefiredrill.org.