Whether for traditional “spring cleaning,” or simplify-your-life decluttering, many of us are feeling inspired right now to tidy up and throw away objects that we no longer need. During our spring cleaning, we may not think of checking our smoke alarms, but we should as they protect us night and day by warning us of fire – but only if they’re working. Learn More “Is It Time to Spring Clean Your Smoke Alarm?”
Late winter blizzards, variable temperatures, and early spring windstorms have forced households in many parts of the country to use their fireplaces more and more. And when storms knock out power, the fireplace can also become the primary source of warmth.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than a third of Americans use fireplaces and other fuel-fired appliances as primary home heating sources, particularly in rural areas. Unfortunately, heating fires account for about one in three residential home fires in rural areas every year, often because of a buildup of creosote, a dark brown or black flammable tar deposited from wood smoke on the walls of a chimney, in chimneys and stovepipes. Learn More “As Winter Hangs On, Use Fireplaces Safely”
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.