During the colder seasons, a lot of time is spent indoors. To truly enjoy the winter months, you have to make sure that your family, guests, and home are safe — and a crucial part of this is ensuring that your home’s smoke detector is in good working order. After all, most new smoke detectors make a chirping sound when their batteries need replacing, right? Well, yes, that might be true, but a low battery isn’t the only reason why smoke detectors don’t work. And since thousands of people lose their lives in house fires every year, it’s important to know not just how to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, but also how to maintain them. The following smoke detector maintenance checklist will help.
How to Maintain Your Smoke Detectors
- Test the smoke detectors. To do this, simply press the “test” button. If the alarm sounds then the detector is in good working order. If it doesn’t sound, there are three possibilities: the unit is old, the battery is dead or the smoke detector doesn’t work anymore.
- Replace old smoke detectors. There are different types of smoke detectors. Some are designed to work for 10 years and have non-replaceable batteries. If this is the type installed in your home, then check to see if all units are still within their functional life. To find out when they need to be replaced, check the outside of each for a sticker that says, “Replace by.” If you don’t see this kind of sticker, check the inside of the detector for a sticker or a date that’s molded into the plastic. If it’s past this date, replace the unit immediately.
- Replace empty batteries. If your smoke detectors have replaceable batteries, some alert you to the fact that they need replacing by emitting a chirping sound. However, not all of them do this. If the alarm doesn’t sound when you test the unit, replace the battery.
- Replace broken smoke detectors. If a smoke detector doesn’t sound off during testing and it’s either a 10-year detector within its functional lifespan or a regular unit that still doesn’t sound after you’ve replaced the batteries, then it’s broken. If this is the case, replace it right away.
- Clean the smoke detectors. The National Fire Protection Association advises cleaning your smoke detectors according to the manufacturer’s manual. Proper cleaning is essential to keeping the units working properly.
Have an Evacuation Plan
Maintaining your smoke detectors is just one part of your fire safety plan. You should also set house rules about not leaving any pots on the stove unattended, as well as the safe use of candles and if applicable, your fireplace. In addition, make an evacuation plan that everybody knows inside and out so that in the event of a fire, everybody knows how to get outside safely and where to meet up in order to do a head count.