Smoke alarms are considered a crucial part of any fire safety plan. They are designed to alert people when a fire breaks out, allowing more time to put out the fire and evacuate the residents. Hence, fire authorities recommend installing smoke alarms in every residential and commercial building.
Aside from installing smoke alarms, it is also necessary to make sure that they are working correctly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your smoke alarms at home or at work.
- Test your smoke alarm at least once a month to make sure it is working fine. Test the batteries by pressing and holding the test button until it beeps. Testing your smoke alarm gives you the peace of mind knowing that your unit is perfectly working at all times. If you prefer to test using actual smoke, all you need to do is light a candle, blow it out until the fire has gone out, then immediately hold it a few inches below the detector. This will allow a trail of smoke from the wick to drift inside the unit and trigger its alarm.
Tip: Inform your family members and other building occupants if you’re going to do a test to avoid panic and false alarms. You don’t want the local fire department knocking on your door because your neighbour reported that your fire alarm went off.
- Dust off your smoke alarms at least every six months to avoid dirt and debris from accumulating. Dust and other contaminants can interfere with your smoke alarm’s detecting function. Having too much dust or having an insect stuck inside might trigger your alarm. Maintaining a dust-free and particle-free smoke alarm will definitely reduce false alarms and ensure that smoke can freely reach the internal sensor.
Tip: You can use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery wand to dust off dirt and debris that have settled around the detectors and the smoke alarms’ interior compartments.
- Replace lead or alkaline batteries every year. Don’t wait for that annoying beeping sound before deciding to change your smoke alarm’s batteries. Set a date every year so you don’t forget, like your birthday or anniversary.
Tip: Choose a date that’s easy to remember. However, fire experts recommend changing your batteries on the same day you turn your clocks back from Daylight Savings Time. There’s no way you’ll miss it!
- Change all your smoke alarms equipped with 10-year lithium powered photoelectric alarms every ten years. This is because the normal lifetime of smoke alarms is 10 years even if they are properly maintained. Out-dated smoke alarms have huge chances of failing so it’s important to be on the safe side and replace all household smoke detectors every 10 years even if you think they are still working perfectly.
Tip: If you recently moved in to the house or you’re a new tenant and you have no idea how old the smoke alarms are, just replace them altogether to be safe. Don’t take any chances when it comes to your and your family’s safety.
Maintaining your smoke alarms is an easy task that you can do yourself. But if you don’t have time or you think there’s something wrong with your unit, call the experts immediately. It pays to be cautious, especially when dealing with fire.