Don’t be alarmed: 7 smoke alarm safety tips
This weekend marks our semi-annual ritual of changing the time on our clocks in an effort to make better use of our daylight hours. If you find it annoying to set your clock ahead one hour every March and back again each November, you may be amused to learn that what we call Daylight Saving Time was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a joke.
We take it seriously today. Well, at least everywhere but in Arizona, Hawaii and the U.S. territories. Those folks do just fine without Daylight Saving Time, thank you very much.
Whether or not your state observes Daylight Saving Time, this weekend is a perfect opportunity to take something else seriously: your home’s smoke alarms.
According to the American Red Cross, almost 900 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. That means testing your smoke alarm batteries once a month and changing the batteries out at least twice a year. So if you’re reading this after the time change, go back through the house and put in fresh 9-volt batteries, won’t you?
Interstate Batteries wants to help you keep your family safe from fires, so here are seven other smoke alarm safety tips:
- Make sure your smoke alarms are placed near or in your bedrooms. Half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Too busy to replace your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks? Get the 10-year Ultralife smoke alarm battery instead. It’s more expensive up front, but then you won’t have to think about it for a decade.
- That 10-year battery is perfect for the fire alarm you keep in the attic. You do have a fire alarm in the attic, don’t you? This report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency outlines why you should, and experts recommend heat alarms (rather than typical smoke alarms) for unfinished attics and garages.
- Keep a supply of backup 9-volt batteries on hand. Sometimes your smoke alarm will start giving you the low-battery chirp in the middle of the night. What do most of us do? We remove the battery, go back to sleep and forget about putting a new one in. Having a supply on hand ensures you can replace the battery before you go back to bed.
- Vacuum over and around your smoke alarms regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with your alarm’s operation. A clean alarm is a safe alarm.
- Teach your children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it. Plan regular fire drills to practice your escape plan. (Ready.gov has great tips on how to create and practice your fire escape plan.)
- Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. That’s right – smoke alarms wear out. If you can’t remember when you last replaced them, buy new alarms that are interconnected if possible.
Do you have any other smoke alarm safety tips? Share them in the comments.