When is the last time you replaced your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms? Smoke and CO alarms are critical elements of home safety. Yet, many people overlook replacing their batteries — or even the alarms themselves. Fire safety experts have linked the incidence of fatal fires to the absence of alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without properly working smoke alarms, or no alarms at all.
“If you can’t think of the last time you installed a smoke or CO alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace your old ones,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “It’s important to make sure alarm maintenance and replacement become a regular, ongoing part of your family’s routine.”
First Alert, the most trusted brand in fire safety, offers the following tips to ensure your family and home are best protected in the event of a fire or CO incident:
Every level, every bedroom. It’s critical to have enough smoke and CO alarms and ensure they are working properly. The NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, and in every bedroom. CO alarms should also be installed on every level and near each sleeping area. To put this in perspective, the average-sized home in America — a two-story, three-bedroom house — needs a minimum of five smoke alarms and four CO alarms. “Every home’s layout and dimensions are different, so consider your specific needs when selecting products to make your home more fire safe,” added Wey.
Test and maintain. Many people assume that because they have alarms in their homes, they’re automatically protected in the event of a fire or CO incident. In reality, both smoke and CO alarms need to be maintained and tested regularly to ensure that they’re working properly. Nonetheless, research shows that more than 60% of consumers do not test their devices on a monthly basis. Testing the alarm is simple — hold down the test button and wait for the alarm to sound. It’s also important to clean the alarm to remove any dust or debris that could interfere with proper function.
Alarms don’t last forever. If you don’t know how old an alarm is, the safest bet is to replace it. Check the date printed on the back of the device. If the alarm is more than 10 years old, it is time to replace it. It is necessary to replace all smoke alarms every 10 years and CO alarms every five to 10 years, depending on the model. Batteries also don’t last forever and should be replaced every six months, unless the alarm features a 10-year sealed battery. As an extra safety measure, most alarms feature an end-of-life warning to alert residents when it is time for replacement.
Double up on safety. Doubling up on safety and installing 2-in-1 protection, such as the First Alert 10-Year Battery Combination Smoke and CO Alarm, is a convenient way to ensure ultimate home safety by providing a decade of protection against both smoke and CO. Not only does the device warn you in case of smoke or CO dangers, but it also features a 10-year sealed battery, which eliminates the needs for battery replacements and late-night battery chirps for a decade.
Establish an escape plan. According to the NFPA, you may have less than two minutes to escape after your smoke alarms sound. Therefore, it is imperative to have an escape plan that everyone in the household follows to evacuate safely. When designing an escape plan, identify two ways out of each room, assign a meeting spot outside, and dedicate someone in the family to assist with pets, elderly family members or infants. Make sure to practice your escape plan with the entire family at least twice a year to help prepare you and your family for the unexpected.
To learn more about how to keep your family and home safe, and for more safety tips, visit www.firstalert.com.