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Fall Back and Change Smoke Alarm Batteries

fall back smoke alarm clock picOnce again, as we “fall back” – to end Daylight Savings Time and return to standard time, it's a perfect time to remember to change our smoke alarm batteries.  Adopting the habit of changing smoke alarm batteries either at the end or the beginning of Daylight Savings Time will keep your family safe, protect your home from fire and smoke damage and help you to avoid homeowners insurance claims.

We all know the value of a reliable smoke alarm in our home. However, having a smoke alarm isn't enough. A good fire safety plan requires that the smoke alarms actually work.  Getting into the habit of doing a quick check of your smoke alarm devices each month will ensure that they are working properly, and changing the batteries at least once a year will ensure that their batteries are fresh and strong. 

If Neglected, Smoke Alarms Might Stop Working

Smoke alarms can stop working because they outlive their usefulness, especially if they are more than 10 years old. However, more commonly, these alarms don't work because their battery is dead or because the smoke alarm has been disconnected or is missing its batteries.  In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warns that almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.

The Smoke Alarm Remind Might Not Remind You

You might wonder why you would not just wait until the smoke alarm beeping alerts you that your smoke alarm batteries need to be replaced.  That's a bad idea for many reasons such as…

  • If you are not at home during time when the beeping alert begins until your smoke alarm batteries go totally dead, you might not be aware that they are not working. This leaves your family and your home unprotected against fire.
  • When the beeping alert occurs, if you don't have replacement smoke alarm batteries ready, you might be tempted to stop the beeping by removing the batteries or disconnecting your smoke alarm. Of course, this decreases your protection from a fire until you get your smoke alarm working again.


Replacing Smoke Alarm Batteries

  • Install the correct type of replacement battery as recommended in the manual or label on your smoke alarm, and follow all directions. Avoid using rechargeable batteries in your smoke alarm. Smoke alarm manufacturers advise against them
  • Almost all smoke alarms batteries should be replaced each year, including those in hard-wired smoke alarms with battery backup. The only exceptions are hard-wired smoke alarms without a battery backup and smoke alarms that have a 10-year battery that cannot be replaced. In the latter case, you would replace the complete smoke alarm every 10 years.
  • Remember to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarm at the same time that you change your smoke alarm batteries.
  • If your smoke alarm is giving you frequent nuisance alarms, then it’s time to replace the entire smoke alarm unit. Don’t be tempted to just disconnect the battery to stop the nuisance alarms.
  • Take the opportunity to clean your smoke alarm at the time that you change the batteries each year.
  • More About Home Smoke Alarms from the NFPA (Video) 
  • Smoke Alarms: Installation and Maintenance Tips
  • Smoke Alarm Types: Ionization vs. Photoelectric
Sunday, 06 November 2011 13:02

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