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Take Care Of Your Smoke Alarm...
It May Save Your LIFE!!

Test your smoke alarm monthlyTragedies can be prevented simply by testing your smoke alarm once a month and by annually replacing smoke alarm batteries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) recommends these measures because non-working smoke alarms will not protect you in case of a fire. (Read CPSC's press release on annual battery changes... click here.)

Every year in the United States, approximately 3,000 people are killed by residential fires. Most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, not as a result of burns. Most deaths and injuries occur in fires that happen at night while the victims are asleep.

Properly installed and maintained, home smoke alarms are considered one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning when a fire begins. Smoke alarms save lives, prevent injuries, and minimize property damage by enabling residents to detect fires early in their development. The risk of dying from fires in homes without smoke alarms is twice as high as in homes that have working smoke alarms.

Test your smoke alarm once a month or after an extended absence...

Both wired-in and battery-powered smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month or in accordance with the smoke alarm manufacturer's recommendation to make sure they are operating properly. If the smoke alarm is battery operated, test it and replace the batteries according to the manufacturer's instructions. Fresh batteries should last approximately one year.

If you keep two households or your home has been vacant for a period of time, check all smoke alarms upon your return.  The warning "chirp" will only last for a month or so, after which the battery will be too weak.  Thus, the battery may become dead while your are away and you'll never hear a warning!

If you hear a "chirp" or "beep" from your smoke alarm...

If your battery-powered alarm begins to emit its low-power warning, such as a chirping sound, replace the battery immediately with a fresh one. Better yet, consider making routine replacement of batteries a seasonal task, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring. This practice will ensure that your smoke alarms will continue to provide protection.

 If "nuisance" alarms occur during cooking or showering, do not disable your smoke alarm by removing the battery.  You may forget to reinstall it!

Instead, clean the smoke alarm following the manufacturer's instructions and move it away from the kitchen or bathroom. Get a different type of smoke alarm, like a photoelectric that's less sensitive to common causes of false alarms; or choose a smoke alarm that has a silencing feature, so nuisance alarms can be stopped quickly and easily.

There are alarms available that have a "nuisance button" that will silence the alarm when it reacts to normal cooking or steam.  After a few minute the alarm becomes active again.

How many alarms should you install... and where?

Place one detector on every floor At least one smoke alarm should be properly placed on every floor of the home. The most important location is near the bedrooms to provide early warning to all sleeping occupants. A smoke alarm should also be placed in all sleeping rooms... especially if you sleep with your bedroom door closed, use candles or smoke.

Don't wait for a fire in your home to test your smoke alarm ... Do it now: test it and replace its batteries.

Make sure alarms are placed either on the ceiling not closer than 6 inches to any corner or wall, or on the wall between 6-12 inches below the ceiling . Locate smoke alarms away from air vents or registers; high air flow or dead air spaces are to be avoided. Dead air spaces are often at the top of a peaked roof, or in corners between ceilings and walls.

If you live in a mobile home...

Some mobile homes with thin insulation in the ceiling or walls require installation of smoke alarms on an inside wall, not the ceiling or an outside wall.  The reason is that the heat generated by the ceiling (or wall) can cause a thermal barrier, preventing smoke from reaching the alarm in the early stages of a fire... the most important time!

Feel the ceiling or walls of your mobile home when in full sun or in the hottest part of the day.  If they are very warm to the touch, install the smoke alarm on an inside wall.  Better safe than sorry!!

When should I replace my smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms do not last forever.  Though the useful life of smoke alarms vary, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that any smoke alarm over 10 years old should be replaced.  Some fire safety organizations, such as Fire Protection Canada, suggest that some alarms can fail within 5 years!

A good rule of thumb... if you can't remember when you purchased your smoke alarms, or they were in your home when you purchased it (and you can't remember that, either), it's time to go shopping... or call your handyman!