“Don’t wait, check the date!” That’s the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association. The focus is on educating the public on the importance of updating your smoke alarms every 10 years from the manufacturing date. It’s safe to say that homeowners would collectively agree that smoke detectors are crucial to protecting their home and family. However, just having smoke alarms in your home won’t ensure they are completely effective. There are steps that must be taken to make sure the installation, inspection and maintenance are done correctly. Did you know that working smoke alarms cut casualty rates in half? Taking a few quick and simple steps can help make your home more fire-safe.
Installation: Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and every level of the home. This includes basements and attics. Larger homes will require more alarms. Install them about 12 inches or less from the ceiling or on the ceiling directly. Be sure to test them immediately after installing to ensure they are working properly. Include your family in this process so they know what sound to expect if the alarm were to go off. This is also a great opportunity to discuss your home evacuation plan, which will be covered later this week.
Inspection: The first step is to remove the smoke alarm from the wall or ceiling. Next, check the back of it for the manufacturing date. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years from the manufacturing date. If you see it’s less than 10 years old, go ahead and secure it back on the ceiling or wall. If it is at the 10 year mark or later, replace them as soon as possible.
Maintenance: Be sure to test them at least once a month by pushing the test button. That way you ensure they are working properly. If your alarm runs on batteries, be sure to replace them at least once a year, even if the batteries haven’t died yet. Pick a date you know you won’t forget, like a holiday or birthday. On this replacement day, give the detector a nice cleaning as dust can affect an alarms performance.
Be sure to spread the word and stress the importance to others, you could make a difference in someone’s life. Check out http://www.nfpa.org/fpw for even more information on Fire Prevention Week and smoke detectors.